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Saracens boss Mark McCall praises team after beating Ulster in Heineken Cup

Last Updated: 07/04/13 8:16am

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Saracens boss Mark McCall was delighted with his battling players after they overcame Ulster to secure a semi-final spot in the Heineken Cup.

The Aviva Premiership leaders romped home 27-16 thanks to tries from Chris Ashton and Will Fraser, with fly-half Owen Farrell kicking 17 points.

They will now play Toulon or Leicester at Twickenham for a place in the final and reflecting on conquering his former side, McCall said: "They were probably the best team we had played all season.

"We defended really well, we were good at the breakdown and forced them to play most of the game from their own half."
Mark McCall

"For us to be 27-9 up with five minutes to go says a lot about the quality of our performance. We've worked unbelievably hard, especially defensively, where we were brilliant throughout the match.

"We took our opportunities. Twelve months ago we were very disappointed with how we coped physically against Clermont Auvergne in the quarter-finals, but 12 months on we believed beforehand that we had moved on, matured as a group and were a better team.

"The players have an unbelievable work ethic for each other."

Exceptional

McCall also paid tribute to Ashton, who stuttered during England's Six Nations campaign but scored a stunning touchdown late in the second half against Ulster to Sarries out of sight.

"He has had a lot of stick," McCall added. But the last three weeks for us he has been exceptional. He took his try magnificently today - it was a real finisher's try - but he had a great game apart from that.

"We defended really well, we were good at the breakdown and forced them to play most of the game from their own half, and when we got into their 22 we generally came away with something."

Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe had no complaints about the result with his team unable to match their Heineken Cup efforts last season when they reached the final, losing 42-14 to Leinster.

"Saracens are a very good team, too good for us today," Anscombe said.

"They deserved their victory. They stuck to their game-plan and played to their strengths. I take my hat off to Saracens. They were superb defensively.

"We didn't get the go-forward ball to be able to ask questions of them. In these one-off games you have got to throw everything at it, but we were a little conservative."

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