Brad Barritt tells Saracens to put defeat behind them as Leinster stride on
Success on the domestic front is now the target.
Brad Barritt declared that Saracens must target Aviva Premiership glory after seeing their quest for a hat-trick of European titles ended by Leinster.
The Champions Cup holders were overrun 30-19 at the Aviva Stadium in a defeat that extinguishes English interest in the competition and propels Leinster into a semi-final against the Scarlets in Dublin.
“It will be a few days before the disappointment settles because we were very excited about this game,” Saracens captain Barritt said.
“It’s not something we’ll forget quickly, but we have the opportunity now to make a success of the rest of the season.
“Hopefully this will galvanise us as a group and we can put all our effort into achieving something in the Premiership.
“Leinster were better on the day and deserved the win. They’re very good and the level we played at was higher than anything else we’ve faced this season.”
Saracens trailed 13-12 at half time but a flurry of 10 points underpinned by Dan Leavy’s marauding 46th-minute try ultimately swept the tournament favourites out of sight.
“Leinster are outstanding and were the best team in the pool stage,” Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said.
“When we analysed them, there weren’t many weaknesses to find. They were very good against us and defended really well.
“They have some players who can hurt you in attack as well, so they’re a very good all-round team. They were just too good for us.
“Ireland winning the Six Nations probably had some effect on them. I’m sure Leinster benefited from have their Ireland players in great form physically and mentally.”
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen insisted the Irish province – and particularly their rampaging openside Leavy – benefited from what he felt was a deliberate tactic by Saracens to target Johnny Sexton.
“There was definitely space on some of the short sides. Saracens defended very hard on Johnny, particularly in the first half,” Cullen said.
“They were playing him … which is the best way to describe it. They were going aggressively at him, so there was going to be space for somebody else.”
Sexton conceded a petulant penalty by kicking the ball away when they were due to take a restart, but Cullen refused to condemn his fly-half.
“It’s tough on Johnny because he was played off the ball a few times during the first half. It’s hard for him to not get frustrated,” said Cullen.
“I’ll have a look back at the game, but there are three or four instances when he’s been hit, played late off the ball.
“I will have to see how that unfolds because it’s important to take that in the context of the game.”