England centre Brad Barritt felt a sold out Ravenhill inspired Saracens rather than intimadted them as the London side booked their place in the Heineken Cup semi final with a 17-15 win over Ulster.
“I think the guys thrived on it, to play in big rugby games in traditional parks like Ravenhill is something you relish and I think the guys loved every minute of it, whether it’s for you or against you, playing in a great atmosphere like this is what you want to do as a rugby player and why you play the game as a small kids,” said Barritt.
“In terms of an atmosphere it was first class and I think the guys relished playing at this great stadium and we’re delighted to go back to London now with a win.”
“We’re delighted with the win and thought it was a pretty comprehensive performance with three tries to nil.”
“A little bit of ill-discipline kept Ulster in the game and we had to keep going back after losing field position.”
“Going into bigger games now in the season we proved that we can do what is needed to do to get points on the board but to concede soft points will hurt us and we think that giving away soft points stopped us from putting together quite a good score.”
In spite of having a numerical advantage for 76 minutes Saracens were clinging on fo victory at the end.
“I think it is a hallmark of this team that we fight to the bitter end, two seasons ago at Twickenham when we had to hold out Leicester, discipline is crucial going forward and making the right decisions in the heat of the moment and luckily we got that one right.”
“It’s a bit strange ( playing against 14), ff anything it rallies the team that it’s happened to, they really dug deep, to give them credit they fought even harder for each other.”
“We lost our number 15 for the entire game and he’s been playing fantastically well so it took some readjustment for our team too and we had another injury in the backline.”
“There were some unsettling times but it’s a trait of the Saracens team is that when the chips are down whoever’s going to fill that shirt is up for fighting for the team.”
Barritt felt Jared Payne didn’t intentionally mean to take out Alex Goode but referee Jerome Garces was right to brandish the red card.
“The recent trend in concussions and neck injuries mean that you do have the duty to protect the guy in the air, thankfully Goodey is ok but it could have been a lot worse.”
“We don’t think it was malicious in any way but ultimately we need to stamp it out of the game.”
Ruan Pienaar had missed Ulster’s last two games with a shoulder injury and he was clearly struggling with it early on and it was part of the Saracens game plan to target the Springbok pivot and they were rewarded with Chris Ashton’s first try.
“Ultimately as a scrum-half he’s quite a hard guy to get to but we knew he’s a talismanic figure for them and the more pressure we could exert on him the better day we’d have so I guess we did our job in that respect but you never want to a player struggling, he’s a class player and he’ll bounce back from it.”
“It was a great try and something he does fantastically well, picking those shoulders and those opportunities and he spotted the gap and we thought about hitting that channel all day in terms of targeting Ruan (Pienaar) because we knew his shoulder wasn’t right.”
“Chris picked a fantastic line he was unlucky not to get a hat-trick later on in the game he was held on the line with some dubious slowing ball tactics.”
Ashton couldn’t resist he’s trademark swan dive after scoring but Barritt felt he wasn’t trying to wind the crowd up.
“It came up in our team meeting this week, he’s got his technique down to scratch now, “Chris says he actually doesn’t instinctively do it, its the heat of the moment it just happens he never plans it but if you score a try like that you deserve the celebration.”
Saracens lost 22-3 to Clermont in the quarter final two years ago and they are hoping for revenge when the sides meet in the last four at Twickenham.
“The lessons we have learned over the past three seasons have stood us in great stead to play Clermont at home, we’ve said we want nothing more than getting to the final and winning this competition it’s the next logical step.”
We’ve been to a quarter-final and a semi-final and obviously we want to go further by getting to Cardiff in May.
“We’ll look at those lessons we’ve learnt over the last few years but we know we’re a stronger team than we were back then.”
“It’s too premature to talk about the double, we’ve got Northampton at the weekend and we just want to build on this success and put ourselves in a good place come May.”