European Champions Cup quarter-final review: What you might have missed
Saracens’ remarkable European journey, which has seen them lift the trophy twice in as many years, came to an end in Dublin on Sunday afternoon.
The two-time winners were beaten 30-19 by Leinster in the European Champions Cup quarter-final at a sold-out Aviva Stadium.
It means that Aviva Premiership Rugby interest in Europe is solely focused on Gloucester Rugby and Newcastle Falcons’ meeting in the Challenge Cup semi-final.
Saracens were right in the mix against the top seeds throughout the first 40 minutes in Dublin with Owen Farrell’s superb boot keeping them within touching distance.
His kicking accuracy was much needed after Garry Ringrose’s third-minute score, with Marcelo Bosch’s incredible 50-metre penalty ensuring Saracens trailed by just a point at the break.
FULL TIME | LEI 30 SAR 19
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) April 1, 2018
Two quickfire tries at the start of the second half proved crucial for the hosts as Dan Leavy and James Lowe both found their way over the Saracens’ whitewash.
Blair Cowan hit back for Saracens from the back of a perfectly-executed driving maul before Devin Toner saw yellow for an infringement on the floor.
There wasn’t quite enough time for Saracens to launch another comeback though and their attentions can now switch to sealing a top-two finish in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
“We’ve had the luxury of having our players coming back over the last two seasons having won a Grand Slam and having won the Championship [with England],” said director of rugby Mark McCall.
Sarries are back in it!
Sub Blair Cowan makes an instant impact with a little help from the rest of the pack 💪
📺 BT Sport 2 HD & 4K UHD pic.twitter.com/ImIyA0r2zJ
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 1, 2018
“(They’ve been) coming back into European finals in great form physically and emotionally. I’m sure Leinster benefitted from that as well.
“I think Leinster are outstanding, they were the best team in the pool stages. When we analysed them, there are not many weaknesses to find, they were good today.
“They had to defend for a long time and they defended really well and they’ve got some people on their team that can really hurt you in attack as well so a really well-rounded team.
“I thought they were just too good for us on the day.”