Mark McCall was 'grateful' to progress into the Heineken Cup semi-finals after an absorbing contest against Ulster

Times Series: Mark McCall was 'grateful' to reach Heineken Cup semi-finals after beating Ulster on Saturday. Picture: Action Images Mark McCall was 'grateful' to reach Heineken Cup semi-finals after beating Ulster on Saturday. Picture: Action Images

Mark McCall says he is ‘grateful’ to have reached the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup after Saracens beat 14-man Ulster 17-15 at Ravenhill.

The win in Belfast sets up a semi-final tussle with last season’s runners-up Clermont, who beat Leicester Tigers 22-16.

Speaking afterwards to Saracens’ official site, McCall praised the efforts of the Rabo12 Direct side, who were down to 14 men after just five minutes following the dismissal of Jared Payne for a dangerous tackle on Alex Goode.

“We were just lucky to get over the line at the end,” admitted McCall.

“I think Ulster deserve an unbelievable amount of credit for what happened out there tonight. To lose a man after five minutes and not only to show the effort that they showed, but to be a tactically astute and smart as they were was a brilliant achievement.”

Second-half tries from Chris Ashton and Mouritz Botha took Sarries through, but McCall was quick to highlight the disciplinary deficiencies in his side’s performance.

“The thing that we are most disappointed in is at times we played some good rugby and at times our effort and our physicality was outstanding but we kept on undoing a lot of good work with some unbelievable indiscipline,” commented McCall.

“We gave away too many penalties and gave them field position for free. We kept them in the game, kept the crowd in the game and we were fortunate to get away with the win.”

Saracens will look to go one step better than last season, when they were knocked out by eventual winners Toulon in the semi-finals.

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