Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall praised the resove of his side in the wake of their 26-10 Heineken Cup victory over Treviso on Sunday.
The Aviva Premiership heavyweights were made to work hard by their determined Italian opposition to secure a home tie in the quarter-finals.
But, despite a distinctly average performance by the Londoners, they were able to grind out the win after trailing 17-13 at the break.
"I thought we were miles off where we normally are, and especially in the first half," said McCall. "The intensity wasn't there, and neither were the standards we normally expect.
"I was pretty disappointed at half-time. But then in the second half we dug in, and I have nothing but admiration for the way we got the job done."
McCall paid a special tribute to diminutive scrum-half Peter Stringer who held up 6ft 4in lock Antonio Pavanello in one outstanding match-saving moment.
"Peter has been a great signing for our club," he added . "He's been here for three months and has showed all his experience.
"He was one of the better players today. His work-rate and his aggression on our line was brilliant."
Despite failing to qualify for another year, Treviso skipper Pavanello praised the Italian outfit for a spirited performance against the defending Premiership champions.
"We have displayed a spirit this year which we haven't always shown," he said.
"We have taken another step and have earned respect with our home performances. We will continue to go forward."