Beating Saracens is crucial to our hopes, says Leicester Tigers fly-half Toby Flood
Fly-half Toby Flood believes Leicester Tigers must beat bitter rivals Saracens on Saturday to maintain their hopes of a home tie in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals.
Tigers' 25-21 defeat by champions Harlequins last Saturday saw them drop from first to third in the table.
Having led 18-12 at the interval through tries from Toby Flood and Adam Thompstone, Tigers saw Quins, helped by a 15-6 penalty count in their favour, roar back to take the spoils in a thrilling second half.
Flood insists it is "imperative" for the club to bounce back quickly and secure a top-two spot in the final Premiership standings if they are to reach yet another showpiece final.
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"It's a tough league to finish first and second in, but we know the stats behind getting a home semi-final and that is imperative for us," said the 27-year-old.
"We set our stall out to beat Quins and Saracens to maintain some distance between us and the rest of the teams.
"But after losing here, we are third in the league and we have to beat Saracens to maintain momentum.
"There was a large amount of frustration after the final whistle in that we were not able to go out and win that game. That really hurts us.
"There were a few raised eyebrows in the changing room and a few puffed-out cheeks. It was very French.
"We are desperate to put that to bed now and we have to bounce back quickly.
"We will be champing at the bit at home to Saracens because it has a huge impact on what happens later on in the season."
Flood is unlikely to be available for the Sarries game because England return to Six Nations action against France.
But he will rejoin the national camp in good form after scoring one intercept try, setting up another and hitting four out of five with the boot against Quins.
"I tied up after five metres and then just held on with my try," he said. "We were coming up quickly in defence and I realised Nick Easter was going to throw it, so I gambled.
"It wasn't pretty for 15 minutes afterwards, having sat on my backside for the last three weeks doing very little (with England). We were comfortable at half-time and the next score was going to be important. If we had scored next, we would have had a chance of winning that.
"We could never shake them off and they were always chipping away at the scoreboard."
Flood shared director of rugby Richard Cockerill's frustrations with referee Wayne Barnes.
"We had endeavour and it was a great team effort, but we feel short in terms of . . . 'stuff''," said Flood, biting his lip.
"I am not allowed to comment on that.
"We had a chance with that scrum near the end (with the score 22-21). Wayne put the whistle to his mouth but the ball popped out and we carried on playing.
"That was a shame because that (penalty) could have been a shot to win it and shut up shop for the last five minutes."