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Aviva Premiership Rugby round up: Semi-Finals

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Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall believes his side have work to do if they’re to secure a historic double against Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham on Saturday.

McCall’s troops cruised past Leicester Tigers 44-17 at Allianz Park on Saturday to book their place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby final having won the European Champions Cup last week.

And McCall admitted he was relieved not to suffer any European hangover against the Tigers, as they look to retain the title they beat Bath Rugby to in last year’s showpiece.

“It's great to have won the match and great to have won the [European] final, but I think there is going to be some lessons for us and some areas for us to improve,” he said.

“This is the week I was worried about because the players celebrated, as they should have done, after the final for a couple of days. 

“Leicester had had some time to prepare for this game, we had a shorter preparation time, so I was worried.”

There was also delight for Exeter Chiefs who reached their first Aviva Premiership Final with a hard-fought 34-23 victory over Wasps at Sandy Park.

And Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter believes the achievement of reaching a Twickenham final is just another step on a long journey for the players.

“The lads who played have made a name for themselves,” he said.

“They are a little bit further up the ladder than they were before, and the club is a little bit further up the ladder.

“What we need to remember about this club is what gives us the backbone and the foundations we've got is that we had to spend a lot of time being tough and dealing with being second and not winning everything, and saying that one day we wanted to be a very successful rugby club.

“This won't feel like a shock to the players. It will feel like the next step they wanted to take.”

It was the second semi-final defeat of the season for Wasps and Leicester Tigers, who were both beaten, by Saracens and Racing 92 respectively, at the same stage of the European Champions Cup.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young had no complaints over the Exeter result and backed his team to bounce back next season.

“We knew they (Exeter) are a good team, and they proved that," Young said. 

“You have only got to look at Saracens in Europe. Sometimes, you have got to keep knocking that door, and it might be a year or two before it opens, but in the end it will open.

“We have got to make sure we stick in there.”

Leicester Tigers director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, was also confident his team were progressing in the right direction to be challenging for silverware in the coming seasons.

“We have got to learn from the two semi-final defeats this year and come back stronger next year having grown our game,” he said.

“You've got to take these painful parts, because at some point over the next couple of years we'll get it right and win something and these are the experiences you have to learn from."

Saracens
Tries: Fraser, Wyles 2, Ashton 2
Conversions: Farrell 4, Hodgson
Penalties: Farrell, Hodgson 2

Leicester Tigers
Tries: Veainu, Barrow
Conversions: Williams 2
Penalties: Williams

Referee: John Paul Doyle
Attendance: 9,932

Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Whitten, Penalty 2, Ewers
Conversions: Steenson 4
Penalties: Steenson 2

Wasps
Tries: Festuccia, Robson
Conversions: Gopperth 2
Penalties: Gopperth 3

Attendance: 12,604
Referee: Greg Garner

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final

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