Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Saracens in last chance saloon, admits McCall

By Andrew Baldock

Mark McCall accepts that "everything is on the line" when holders Saracens fight for European Champions Cup survival tonight.

Saracens, European champions in 2016 and 2017, will effectively see hat-trick hopes disappear if they fail to beat the Ospreys in Swansea.

Successive Pool Two defeats against French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne last month, which included a 46-14 drubbing at home, have left McCall's men in danger of pool-stage elimination for the first time since 2011.

Clermont can win the group and secure a last-eight place with victory over already-eliminated Northampton this evening, leaving Saracens chasing one of three best runners-up spots by winning their final two games against Ospreys and Saints.

"It's a play-off game, it's a big game," Saracens' Ulster-born rugby director McCall said.

"The players want to be involved in quarter-finals, they want to be involved in those games. If we lose, we won't be. It's as simple as that really.

"It is the first time for a few years we've been in a fifth pool match where everything is on the line. It's a new experience for us even to be in that position so early in the competition. It is what it is.

"They (Ospreys) have had a good couple of months, but more than that, they've got good players right through their team that are playing well.

"Their half-backs are outstanding, they have got a great scrum, they are well coached, they are at home, so there are lots of reasons why it is going to be a difficult game."

Saracens are boosted for the Liberty Stadium clash by Wales international Liam Williams' return from a groin-related injury.

Wasps and Exeter are also battling to stay afloat, with Wasps currently three points off second-placed Ulster in Pool One and Aviva Premiership champions Exeter four points behind second-placed Montpellier - their Sandy Park opponents on today - in Pool Three.

Wasps head to Premiership rivals Harlequins.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph