Saracens have to push on for Premiership success says Barritt after European exit
PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 April 2018
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Brad Barritt declared that Saracens must target Aviva Premiership glory after seeing their quest for a hat-trick of European titles end at Leinster.
The Champions Cup holders were overrun 30-19 at the Aviva Stadium in a defeat that extinguishes English interest in the competition and propels Leinster into a semi-final against the Scarlets in Dublin.
“It will be a few days before the disappointment settles because we were very excited about this game,” said Saracens captain Barritt.
“It’s not something we’ll forget quickly, but we have the opportunity now to make a success of the rest of the season.
“Hopefully this will galvanise us as a group and we can put all our effort into achieving something in the Premiership.
“Leinster were better on the day and deserved the win. They’re very good and the level we played at was higher than anything else we’ve faced this season.”
Saracens trailed 13-12 at half time, but a flurry of 10 points underpinned by Dan Leavy’s marauding 46th-minute try swept the favourites out of sight.
“Leinster are outstanding and were the best team in the pool stage,” added Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.
“When we analysed them, there weren’t many weaknesses. They were very good against us and defended really well. They have some players who can hurt you in attack as well, so they’re a very good all-round team. They were just too good for us.
“Ireland winning the Six Nations probably had some effect on them. I’m sure Leinster benefited from have their Ireland players in great form physically and mentally.”
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen insisted the Irish province and particularly their rampaging openside Leavy benefited from what he felt was a deliberate tactic to target Johnny Sexton.
“There was definitely space on some of the short sides. Saracens defended very hard on Johnny, particularly in the first half,” Cullen said.
“They were going aggressively at him, so there was going to be space for somebody else.”
Sexton conceded a petulant penalty by kicking the ball away, but Cullen refused to condemn his fly-half, adding: “It’s tough on Johnny because he was played off the ball a few times during the first half. It’s hard for him to not get frustrated.”