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Match Reaction: Saracens 24 Wasps 17

Saracens’ international players are hungrier for success at club level than others, according to director of rugby Mark McCall, after his side beat Wasps to reach the Champions Cup final.

Scrum-half Dan Robson got Wasps off to a flyer, touching down in the second minute, but Michael Rhodes hit back after sustained Saracens pressure to give them an 8-7 lead at the break.

Saracens’ dominance earned them a penalty try in the second half and penalties from the boot of Owen Farrell put McCall’s men 14 ahead with ten to play.

Ashley Johnson crossed the whitewash for Wasps with five minutes remaining but it was in vain and the Aviva Premiership Rugby leaders ran out 24-17 winners.

McCall also praised his side’s physical intent and picked out Mako Vunipola’s performance as a highlight.

“Our internationals love coming back,” he said. “There are maybe players at other clubs who go back and don’t have the same hunger.

“They are all young and now we have got some really exciting fixtures to look forward to in the next four or five weeks.

“The big improvement in Mako’s game has been in the tight, his scrummaging has gone to a different level.

“Everybody knows what a good rugby player he is, not too many looseheads can do what he does, the way he carries the ball, his decision-making, how many tackles he makes, he is a phenomenal player and this was one of his best performances.

“I thought we were brilliant. We were physical and intelligent in how we played the game, putting them under pressure and into situations that they haven’t faced in the last ten weeks.

“I thought our set-piece was going to be important, our scrum was outstanding throughout, but our defensive lineout was also outstanding.”

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said the opposition deserved their victory but was disappointed with his side’s performance after such an impressive run of recent form.

He said: “I’m really proud of this group, we have come out of the group of death, edged Exeter out and pushed Saracens all the way.

“This is the stage of competitions we want to be in. We haven’t been here for a long time. I’ve said to the boys to pull our heads up and push our chests out. We didn’t quite have enough, but the players have done the club proud.

“Of course I’m disappointed, especially for the players, but I think in fairness Saracens deserved it.

“We really struggled to get our game going due to their intensity and defence, but I think you have seen our spirit again here.

“When things seemed to get away from us, we found a way to keep on pushing till the end.

“We have a long way to go this season and we have another shot at a title to come. We’ve got to dust ourselves off now and it’s a real sobering thought that we’ve got a trip to Sandy Park next week.”
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Taylor, Barritt, Wyles, Farrell, Wigglesworth (de Kock 76), M Vunipola, Brits (Saunders 74), du Plessis (Lamositele 76), Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes (Wray 62), Fraser, B Vunipola
Replacements: Barrington, Hamilton, Hodgson, Bosch
Wasps: Piutau, Wade, Daly, Piutau, Halai, Gopperth, Robson (Simpson 52), Mullan (McIntyre 61), Festuccia (Johnson 70), Cittadini (Swainston 67), Launchbury, Davies, Haskell (Young 61), Smith, Hughes (Jones 70)
Replacements: Jackson, Miller

Tries: Rhodes, Penalty Try
Conversions: Farrell
Penalties: Farrell 4
Tries: Robson, Johnson
Conversions: Gopperth 2
Penalties: Gopperth

Referee: Romain Poite
Attendance: 16,820

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