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Brown sets sights on Saints

Kelly Brown believes Saracens will recover quickly from their Heineken Cup final disappointment and be ready for the "huge challenge" that awaits them in next Saturday's Aviva Premiership final against Northampton.

Saracens' hopes of landing a first European title were dashed by holders Toulon, who closed out a comprehensive 23-6 Millennium Stadium victory.

The defeat ended Saracens' trophy double dream this season, but silverware still awaits if they can sink Saints at Twickenham.

"We are clearly disappointed, but it's in the past now. There is nothing we can do - we can't change it," Saracens flanker and Scotland captain Brown said.

"We need to move on. It is something as a squad we've done successfully in the past. When we have had a setback, we've moved on pretty quickly.

"We have had a great season, but we are aware that we have won nothing yet. It's a huge challenge next weekend.

"We have had a lot of battles with them (Northampton) over the last few years, and they are always tough and physical.

"You want to test yourself against the best players, and it's the top two sides in England over the course of the season, so it is going to be exciting.

"If you look at their pack, it's really strong. They imposed themselves on Bath (in the Amlin Challenge Cup final), so as an eight we are aware that we really need to front up. It's going to be a big test for us."

Saracens were undone in Cardiff by Toulon tries from Matt Giteau and Juan Smith, while Jonny Wilkinson kicked 13 points - including a trademark drop-goal - meaning the wait for an English European champion will now run into an eighth year.

Saracens' England number eight Billy Vunipola said: "At Saracens when we have a setback we always seem to come back in and get a positive (reaction). I hope we can do that this week.

"Maybe we lacked a bit of detail (against Toulon), and that was why there were so many successful turnovers.

"Maybe I tried to take it on myself too much and went away from the team patterns. That's probably my fault. It's one area we need to work on - staying within the team framework, rather than trying to be Superman.

"A loss in a final is always going to be a setback. You want to go out and win those big games. Hopefully, we can go out and put in a better performance (against Northampton).

"Northampton are a good team and we can't take them lightly. We've got to go out with a great plan and carry that out.

"We can't just play on emotion. They will be at the top of their game. We need to get the disappointment of this one out of the way and play well against them."

Saracens' South African hooker Schalk Brits added: "It is going to be very tough. The boys are sore and we are very disappointed. It's going to be hard, but that's one of the things of being in finals.

"I am very proud of the boys, the way they got stuck in, the hard work and commitment they showed. Unfortunately, we weren't good enough on the day.

"Toulon have got great individual players. That is the closest you will get to a club side that's a world XV. They taught us a lesson in certain departments.

"We will learn from it and we will get stronger through games like this one. You learn a lot more from losing than winning."


From Belfast Telegraph