London Welsh assistant coach Matthew Ferguson admitted his side’s 20-15 LV= Cup defeat to Saracens was a bitter pill to swallow after seeing the chance of a first win of the season slip through their fingers.
The Exiles looked on course to finally end their 21-match losing run in all competitions after two tries from Tongan international Opeti Fonua plus five points from the boot of Tristan Roberts had them 15-14 ahead with just ten minutes remaining.
But Saracens’ Ben Spencer, one of two Saracens try scorers along with Jared Saunders, broke Welsh hearts as he held his nerve with two tricky penalties late on to snatch the win at the Kassam Stadium.
The result leaves the Exiles bottom of Pool 4, a position they also occupy in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, and a frustrated Ferguson insisted his troops had missed a golden chance to taste a rare victory.
“It’s massive frustration," said Ferguson. "That's taking nothing away from a very talented and cohesive Saracens team. I feel that there were opportunities there for us to kick on and find that elusive win that we've looked for.
"There's been fixtures this year when we've not been in (the game)… but we were in that fixture. I feel that we have to demand better from ourselves across the board.
"We were our own worst enemies out there. It wasn't a game where a number of top-class internationals cut us apart. We beat ourselves.
"What's happened there is we've killed ourselves by not being accurate. We lost that game because of our inaccuracy and our inability to get over the line. That's probably the poorest way to lose."
Saracens namely a youthful side to face winless Welsh with the likes of Jack Culverhouse rewarded for their strong performances in the A-League this season.
They were trailing to Roberts’ early drop goal for most of the half before Spencer’s converted try sparked a period of scoring either side of the break with Saunders also dotting down.
And skills coach Joe Shaw was delighted with the spirit showed within his squad to keep going until the very end.
“On paper their team was pretty intimidating for our boys but to a man they showed incredible spirit. They showed that togetherness that we talk about at Saracens,” he said.
“We talked about how London Welsh, with the players they had, in front of their own crowd and the way we have been put together this week, they were going to get a lot of momentum.
“When they did get the momentum, it was all about how we reacted and how we did our jobs. It was huge learning curve for some of our lads, to be patient and show maturity when the pressure was on. I think today they showed that.”
London Welsh: Kear; Awcock (Lewis JH), May, Barkley, Scott; Roberts, Lewis RM (Davies 59); Trevett (Aholelei 54), Britton (Morris 64), Vea; West (Schofield 54), Down, Pienaar (Thorpe 69), Kirwan, Fonua
Replacements not used: Cooper, Robinson
Saracens: Fercu; Ellery, Wilkins, Palamo (Staff 62), Perkins; Mordt, Spencer; Culverhouse, Saunders, Alo; O’Neill, Tredea (Buggea 60), Thompson-Stringer, Hankin (Taylor 78), de Jager
Replacements not used: Adams-Hale, Featherstone, Hughes, Whiteley, Malins
Drop goal: Roberts
Tries: Spencer, Saunders
Conversions: Spencer 2
Penalties: Spencer 2
Referee: David Proctor
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