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Saracens set up chance for progress in Europe

PUBLISHED: 16:00 16 January 2020

Saracens Manu Vunipola during the Heineken Champions Cup pool four match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea.

Saracens Manu Vunipola during the Heineken Champions Cup pool four match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea.

PA Wire/PA Images

Underfire Saracens will reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken European Champions Cup with a home win over Racing 92 at Alllianz Park on Sunday.

Saracens Richard Wigglesworth celebrates winning the Champions Cup Final at St James' Park, Newcastle.Saracens Richard Wigglesworth celebrates winning the Champions Cup Final at St James' Park, Newcastle.

The holders kept their hopes alive in Pool Four with a 22-15 victory at Ospreys last weekend, despite being reduced to 14 men in only the fifth minute of the match at the Liberty Stadium.

Welsh international Rhys Carre was red-carded for a shoulder-led challenge on home full-back Dan Evans, while Calum Clark was shown a yellow card late in the first half to leave Saracens down to 13 men.

But Alex Lewington scored a try in the 50th minute and Manu Vunipola, the 19-year-old fly-half cousin of England stars Billy and Mako, kicked 18 points to help secure victory.

And long-serving scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth was delighted with how Saracens - who sit bottom of the Gallagher Premiership after a 35-point deduction for a salary cap breach - got the job done.

"It's a brilliant feeling," he told saracens.com.

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"I'm really proud of the group. We obviously have to make changes in this competition and we talked about we weren't giving it up.

"It's one thing to say it and it's another to back it up. That's testament to the group that we backed it up, had a good week and finished it off well.

"When you go down to 14, and 13 men at times, it just makes itall the more sweet. There's aren't many places that have got this. We've seen teams capitulate.

"You come back in at half-time down to 13 men, you concede and go behind, 90 per cent of teams laugh it off and get beat, you get beat easy and then there's an easy excuse.

"This group of young Saracens lads didn't do that. They said 'no, I'm going to stick in this fight and get after it' and we actually were pretty dominant in the second half in terms of territory and where we played the game. It was a brilliant win."

Wigglesworth had a notable hand in the solitary Saracens try as his box kick was claimed by Lewington and the 36-year-old was pleased to help play a part.

Hhe added: "Lewy's gone through the roof with his chasing for us. I was under a lot of pressure and hacked half of them, but that one came off nicely. When you've got wingers like we have, desperate to go and get the ball back, it makes life a lot easier."

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