Burger: Defeat at Bath inspired Saracens’ latest victory at Allianz Park
- Credit: Archant
Jacques Burger credits Saracens’ defeat at Bath earlier in the season for Sunday’s 34-24 victory against the West Country men at Allianz Park.
The home side’s three-try victory closed the gap on Bath at the top of the Aviva Premiership table and, heading into the closing months of the season, they are well placed to secure a top-four position and a spot in the end of season play-offs.
Saracens suffered a defeat at Bath earlier in the season but Burger explained the lessons learned that day helped his team to an impressive victory on Sunday, thanks to tries from Chris Wyles, Jamie George and Chris Ashton.
“The last time we played them over at The Rec, they were certainly the better side and we learned a couple of lessons from that game,” explained the Namibian international back-row forward.
“They are definitely a side that needs to be respected – they are a very good side with very good players. We showed them a lot of respect, but we played at the level that we know we can play.
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“I thought we were dominant for most of the game. They came back at us in the final parts, and maybe defensively we weren’t at our best during that period.
“We’ve got to be happy with the win, it was a very good win against a very good side.”
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Saracens travel to Manchester on Saturday for a Premiership clash against a Sale Sharks side who have been enjoying a fine season of their own. Although Sale currently occupy sixth place in the table, they are just four points behind third-placed Saracens.
And, with only four points separating the teams in third and seventh place, Burger knows the importance of every match for the remainder of the season.
“The league is very close and very competitive and there are a lot of teams who can easily finish in the top four,” he said. “We have to make sure we are one of them and really build on the performance that we put in against Bath.
“We’ve set ourselves a benchmark recently with the wins over Munster and Bath at Allianz Park, and that is the level of performance we must achieve in every game as a minimum.
“We’re starting to click and put in some good performances and I thought our attacking play in particular against Bath was good – we scored some great tries.
“But we also know that Sale have top-four ambitions of their own and they have really continued to improve this season. We had a very good win against them in Europe but that won’t count for much on Saturday. I think it’s going to be a great but very hard-fought game.”
Saracens will find out later this week which players, if any, England head coach Stuart Lancaster will release back to the club to be part of the squad against Sale.
Brad Barritt and Alex Goode both played well against Bath, giving the national team management a timely reminder of their abilities, while wing Chris Ashton scored his 12th try of the season in all competitions.
Charlie Hodgson is set to continue at fly-half in Manchester against his former side, having just agreed a one-year extension on his contract with the north London club.
Meanwhile, Saracens secured their third trophy of the season on Monday night as the club’s Under-18s won the
title at the Premiership Rugby/RFU Academy Finals Day.
Saracens Storm have already won the A-League crown, while the women have won the Premiership – and Nick Ramsey’s late try secured a thrilling 23-19 victory over defending Under-18 champions Northampton Saints this week.
Saints led in the closing stages but Billy Walker touched down and, with two minutes left, Ramsey also went over to take the title.