Heineken Cup: Mark McCall says Saracens must start strongly against Clermont Auvergne
Mark McCall believes the opening stages of Saracens' Heineken Cup clash with Clermont Auvergne will be crucial.
Last Updated: 25/04/14 7:18pm
The semi-final at Twickenham marks something of a yardstick for Saracens, who were beaten 22-3 and outclassed by Clermont in the tournament's last eight two years ago.
The French giants are renowned for their fast starts and McCall believes his side must not give the game away in the opening period.
"Clermont are a quality side with quality players throughout - they're a side who have been there or thereabouts in this competition for the last four or five seasons," McCall said.
"We've got a plan - there are certain things we think we need to get right and areas we need to be very strong in to make that plan work.
"They're not particularly weak in any area, they start games very well, extremely well, and we want to ensure as much as possible that we control the field position in the first 25 minutes of the match.
"It's about not allowing them to do what they've done to other teams. It's easier said than done.
"There will be times we know they'll get some momentum and it's important we stay composed, hang tough and stay resilient because we know those periods won't last forever."
When asked to single out a player in the Clermont XV he considered to be the dangerman, McCall pinpointed Sitiveni Sivivatu.
In his six games in the competition so far the explosive winger has beaten 20 defenders, made 14 clean breaks and gained 510 metres - the most of any player on either side.
"The problem with Sivivatu is he pops up everywhere and he pops up in unique and unusual positions for a winger and it's hard to make plans for that," McCall added.
"You can only create an awareness, make sure nobody is left one-against-one with him as much as possible and make sure you have support either side of you because he has magnificent feet and can beat any defender on his day."