MIKE BLAIR refused to let the fact that his side had failed by the narrowest of margins to secure a home draw in the last 16 of the Champions Cup to detract from the satisfaction of claiming the scalp of the dominant team in English rugby at the moment.

With the two sides tied in Pool A on both league points and points difference, Saracens finished higher ranked because they scored more tries over the four pool matches. That means the English side will host Ospreys in the first round of knock-out matches on the weekend of 31st March – 2nd April, while Edinburgh face a much tricker challenge away to Leicester Tigers.

Edinburgh had a chance to push on for the extra points they needed to jump ahead of Saracens when they won a scrum penalty deep inside their own half with just a few minutes left.

However, they could not get on to the front foot, so replacement scrum-half Henry Pyrgos decided that discretion was the better part of valour by opting to kick the ball dead as soon as the ball ticked past the 80-minute mark, rather than run the risk of handing Saracens the chance to steal a late win.

“We wanted them to kick it off,” said Blair. “We made that call. You don’t always get these things right but our view was that we had Sam Skinner in the sin-bin, we were playing into a stiff breeze and we had no momentum in our attack.

“We felt Saracens had the momentum in the last 10 minutes. So, the decision was we had won three of our four Champions Cup games and beating Saracens, who had only lost one of their last 16 games, would give us a boost.

“We would have loved a home game, but we felt the odds were stacked against us – so we cashed in. We were aware of the situation, and we are comfortable taking the win.

“Saracens were going really hard at us in the breakdown and I just felt the odds were stacked against us.”

Blair added that the team will embrace the opportunity they now have to claim another major scalp when they visit Welford Road – one of the iconic grounds of European club rugby – in just over a month.

“Playing a European tie, a knockout game, at Leicester is brilliant for the club,” he said, before explaining that his one real regret from the match is that Edinburgh did not manage to get further ahead earlier in the contest – particularly when Saracens were reduced to 13-men midway through the first half after hooker Jamie George and tight-head prop

Marco Riccioni were sent to the sin-bin for high tackles during this period.

“There is still a huge amount to learn,” Blair conceded. “I thought we showed good intent there, but didn’t have that accuracy in that period [with two extra men], and it could have been crucial.”

The hosts fired out the blocks to take a third-minute lead through a Dave Cherry try, which was converted by Blair Kinghorn, and the Edinburgh winger slotted a penalty soon after that to make it 10-0.

However, despite commanding 71 per cent of possession during the first half, they could not push further ahead, and Saracens managed to pull it back to a four-point game by the break thanks to two Andy Goode penalties.

Kinghorn and Goode exchanged penalties at the start of the second half, before Maro Itoje became the third Saracens player to see yellow for a cynical offside which prevented Henry Pyrgos from moving quick ball away from the base of an attacking Edinburgh ruck.

Edinburgh kicked that penalty to the corner and stretched clear when man-of-the-match Pierre Schoeman burst from the back of the maul and powered over the line.

Saracens kept battling and eventually got their reward with a Ben Earl try which secured the home draw in the next round.

Scorers, Edinburgh – Tries: Cherry, Schoeman. Cons: Kinghorn 2. Pens: Kinghorn 2.

Saracens: Try: Earl. Pens: Goode 3.

Edinburgh: H Immelman; J Blain (W Goosen 56), M Bennett, J Lang, B Kinghorn; C Savala, B Vellacott (H Pyrgos 51); P Schoeman, D Cherry, W Nel, S Skinner, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie (N Haining, 55), L Crosbie, V Mata.

Saracens: E Daly (A Lewington. 46); M Malins (C Judge 29-34), A Lozowski, N Tompkins, S Maitland; A Goode, I van Zyl (A Davies 56); R Hislop (E Mawi 59), J George (K Pifeleti 40), M Riccioni (C Judge 34), M Itoje, H Tizard (N Isiekwe 56), A Christie (K Pifeleti 29-34, T Dab 70), B Earl, W Vunipola.

Referee: L Cayre (France).