Wyles: Saracens can upset the odds in play-off semi-final at Northampton
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Chris Wyles admits Saracens face a huge challenge as they travel to face the Premiership’s top team Northampton Saints in Saturday’s play-off semi-final.
But he says the Hendon outfit know to their cost that the side that finishes first has no guarantee of winning the title, and that he and his team-mates have just as good a chance of lifting the trophy as their rivals.
Saracens finished top of the pile after the regular season in 2013 and 2014, but they lost at home to Northampton in the 2013 semi-final and were then defeated by the Saints in last year’s dramatic final, missing out after conceding a try in the last minute of extra time.
This season Sarries have lost both of their fixtures against their arch-rivals and only just squeezed into the play-offs on the final day, overtaking Exeter on points difference courtesy of a 68-17 victory away against basement boys London Welsh on Saturday.
That booked a visit to Northampton’s Franklins Gardens this weekend. And Wyles, who scored two tries in each of the losses to the Saints this campaign, said: “Northampton are a very good side and we’ve had tough losses to them over the past year or so. It’s going to be a big game.
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“More than anything it’s a challenge. They’re the reigning champions and on top of that we’re going away to their stadium, so there are plenty of challenges. But we’ve just been saying all week that that’s what you play rugby for – you have these big challenges and you try hard to overcome them.
“They’ve been leading the table for the majority of the season, if not the entire season I believe. I think they deserve it [finishing top] but what’s interesting about play-off games is that often anything can happen, and actually we’ve been to Northampton before in the semis and we’ve won there [in 2010], so there’s all to play for. No team is invincible.
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“Once you’re in the play-offs and the regular season is done, it doesn’t matter if you finished first or fourth – you’re just as likely to win the trophy.
“We’ve finished at the top of the table for the last two years and that’s been great, but we haven’t won trophies.”
Wyles, who lives in Hampstead, added: “Obviously we haven’t won as many games as we did last season. The Premiership is a lot closer and it’s been great to see actually. There have been some great games.
“Exeter have played some great rugby and obviously Bath are playing some great rugby too. There are some good teams in the Premiership and I think that’s good for the outsider.
“It’s hard to comment on our season because we don’t know how it’s going to finish yet. Personally I’m happy how it has gone. I’ve managed to score a few tries, which has been nice, and it’s due to the hard work of my team-mates.
“I’ve obviously have to move around with different positions but I’ve been happy to do that. It’s great to have that versatility. Sometimes it can be difficult because you’re changing positions all the time, but for the most part I enjoy it. I just want to be able to be on the pitch and contribute to the team.”