Mark McCall: Champions Cup exit would leave Saracens with a million regrets

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Mark McCall admitted Saracens will be haunted by “a million regrets” if they fail to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions Cup.

The European champions overwhelmed Northampton 62-14 at Allianz Park to finish second in Pool Two and must wait to see if they will progress as one of three best runners-up.

But even if their quest to mirror Toulon by winning a third successive crown ends this weekend, McCall will take heart from the club’s revival since enduring a sixth straight defeat when losing 46-14 to Clermont in December.

“If we don’t qualify we don’t qualify but we’ll have a million regrets because we’re good enough to be in that company but this display does give us confidence for the rest of the season,” director of rugby McCall said.

“That performance was the culmination of a brilliant six weeks. Six weeks ago on that Monday we played against Clermont, we were in a bit of a difficult and tough situation.

“I’m incredibly proud of the players and staff for the positive six weeks that we’ve had.

“We had some really tough fixtures in that period. We had to play away at Clermont, Ospreys, Leicester and Wasps so to play the way we did was outstanding.

“It might leave us with a few regrets if we don’t get through to the last eight but it does show what we’re capable of.

“We could have played better against the Ospreys last week but maybe that draw will get us into the last eight.

“We’d love to be playing a big game in April and it doesn’t really matter where it is because I know on our day we’re capable of performances like that.

“When we play like that we’re a very difficult team to beat. Should we get through playing away from home won’t hold any fear.”

Owen Farrell finished with 27 points and was instrumental in Saracens’ third 50-point demolition of Northampton this season.

“That was just an amazing performance from Owen. He grows all the time as a player and a leader,” McCall said.

“He’s one of many senior players who during this difficult time has shown real maturity, intelligence and experience. He’s been outstanding.”

Wales wing Liam Williams was withdrawn from Saracens’ starting XV shortly before kick-off due to tightness in the hip joint injured during the autumn.

“Liam’s a bit stiff so we’re going to take a look at how he is. He’s just a bit tight,” McCall said.

Northampton interim director of rugby Alan Gaffney admitted Saints were well beaten.

“We were very, very passive in defence and allowed their forwards to dominate that contact area,” Gaffney said.

“They were very positive in their defence and got off the line and put pressure on us. We just didn’t handle it at all.”

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