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Match Reaction: Saracens 44 Leicester Tigers 17

Director of rugby Mark McCall insists he will have no trouble motivating his Saracens players for next weekend’s Aviva Premiership Rugby final against Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham as they seek to complete the double.

Saracens became European champions last weekend and followed up with a 44-17 defeat of Leicester Tigers to reach the Aviva Premiership Rugby final for a third year in a row.

Fears of any European hangover were dispelled when Saracens built a 31-point lead at the interval.

And McCall sees no reason why they will not keep their foot on the gas at Twickenham to seal more silverware.

“The players deserve enormous credit for being emotionally good,” he said.

“I don’t know if we were worthy of that kind of scoreline, even the first half seemed to be a lot tighter than that.

“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.

“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.

“We’re delighted to be in another final and there will be no problem getting the players up for it next week."

McCall anticipates fly-half Owen Farrell will be “fine”, despite having to leave the field with a hip injury following a heavy tackle.

The prognosis on England team-mate Manu Tuilagi, however, is not so good. Leicester Tigers director or rugby Richard Cockerill confirming he left the field midway through the first half with a hamstring injury, stating: “it’s not great for anybody at the moment.”

Leicester showed great spirit to make a contest of the semi-final in the second half, as they reduced their deficit to 14 points.

But a late Chris Ashton try ended any hopes of shell-shocking the hosts and Cockerill conceded his team were second best.

“We’re bitterly disappointed because we’re better than that, but no complaints, Saracens deserved to win,” he said.

“The first half killed us. We made errors, we forced the game and played into their hands.

“We didn’t execute. We made some good inroads and couldn’t finish.

“I’m disappointed in the way we gave away cheap points.

“We regrouped at half-time and got back in the game for a little bit and credit to the players. But we weren’t good enough.

“We’re developing our game, we’ve had a pretty good season. In the two big games in the semis we have not quite been good enough. Where we sit is probably about right at the moment.

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

“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: Goode, Ashton, Taylor (Bosch 52), Barritt, Wyles, Farrell (Hodgson 60), Wigglesworth (De Kock 57); M Vunipola (Barrington 69), Brits (George 47), Du Plessis (Figallo 54), Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes (Wray 60), Fraser, B Vunipola (Hamilton 72)

Leicester Tigers: Tait, Veainu, Betham (Bell 78), Tuilagi (Thompstone 21), Goneva, Williams, Youngs (Kitto 73); Ayerza (George 53), Thacker (Ghiraldini 45), Cole (Mulipola 65), Barrow, Kitchener (Slater 57), Fitzgerald (Evans 69), O’Connor, McCaffrey

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
 
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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