James Haskell is confident his Wasps team-mates will be stronger for the experience after they suffered a 32-18 defeat to RC Toulon in their European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final.
Six penalties from Frederic Michalak and Mathieu Bastareaud’s try gave the hosts a 22-6 half-time lead at Stade Felix Mayol but to Wasps’ credit, they responded after the interval as Tongan international Will Helu dotted down twice.
That narrowed the gap to seven points but Ali Williams’ late converted try sealed the deal for Toulon, setting up a home semi-final with Leinster, and Haskell admits his side must find a more clinical edge at the top level.
“To win in European rugby, or to be successful in Aviva Premiership Rugby, you have to go to a dark place,” explained the flanker.
“You have to consistently be ruthless under pressure and not make mistakes but I think today, for the most part, we weren’t ruthless and we lost the ball.
“There were too many penalties, too much indiscipline at times and you can’t do that. Every time you go to a place like Toulon, it’s a learning curve.
“I’m not so young but the rest of the boys are and I’m confident we will come back and compete.”
George Kruis believes the game was won up front after Saracens ensured there would be Aviva Premiership Rugby representation in the semi-finals by beating Racing Metro 12-11 with the last kick of the match.
Maxime Machenaud scored the only try of the game in the first half and Racing Metro led 11-9 as the clock seeped into the red but Marcelo Bosch nailed a last-gasp penalty to book a semi-final at Clermont Auvergne.
And England lock Kruis saluted his fellow Sarries forwards for grinding out a result.
“You look at their pack and they are all six foot-plus,” he said. “They are big guys, so we knew, set-piece wise, it was always going to be a huge thing for us to get on top of them.
“I think we did that in the first half – we found line-outs and scrums tough in the second half but I think we pressed through and got some good mileage out of them.
“Scrums are huge in a game like this because you’ve got to be kicking three points whenever you can get them and I think we won that one.”
Although Bath Rugby fell to a narrow 18-15 defeat to Leinster in a thrilling encounter, head coach Mike Ford insists his side warrant no sympathy after first-half indiscipline cost them a famous triumph.
England fly-half George Ford scored a superb solo try and set up another for Stuart Hooper but a metronomic kicking display from Ian Madigan saw him boot six penalties to book a semi-final with Toulon in a fortnight’s time.
And Mike Ford admits his young side need to cut out the errors that left them with too much ground to make up.
“We weren’t good enough at the start, we conceded too many penalties and didn’t control the ball,” he said.
“We’ve got to move on – it’s been a great experience for the boys as we’re still a young team but I’m so disappointed because we’re better than that and I don’t want the sympathy vote at all.”
Meanwhile, Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has turned his attentions to retaining the Aviva Premiership Rugby title after his side suffered a heavy 37-5 defeat away to Clermont Auvergne.
Saints trailed 27-0 at half-time as Noa Nakaitaci scored a double and fellow France international Wesley Fofana also crossed while former Bath full-back Nick Abendanon added a fourth after the restart.
Alex Waller’s try inside the final 15 minutes was just consolation and Mallinder was left to rue the sluggish start.
“The first 40 minutes we just weren’t in any aspect of play, the breakdown, clearout, set-piece – they were just very good,” said Mallinder.
“We have one focus now, to retain the Premiership trophy and we will do whatever we can to make sure that happens.”
Racing Metro 11 Saracens 12
Penalties: Machenaud 2
Penalties: Hodgson 2, Goode, Bosch
Referee: Nigel Owens
Toulon 32 Wasps 18
Tries: Bastareaud, Williams
Conversions: Michalak 2
Penalties: Michalak 6
Tries: Helu 2
Penalties: Lozowski 2
Referee: George Clancy
Leinster 18 Bath Rugby 15
Penalties: Madigan 6
Tries: Ford, Hooper
Referee: Jerome Garces
Clermont Auvergne 37 Northampton Saints 5
Tries: Nakaitaci 2, Fofana, Abendanon
Conversions: James 4
Penalties: James 3
Referee: John Lacey