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McCall ‘incredibly proud’ of Saracens

PUBLISHED: 18:52 20 January 2018

Saracens' Maro Itoje wins a lineout during the European Rugby Champions Cup match against Northampton (pic Paul Harding/PA)

Saracens' Maro Itoje wins a lineout during the European Rugby Champions Cup match against Northampton (pic Paul Harding/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall described his side’s demolition of Northampton Saints as “the culmination of a brilliant six weeks”.

Saracens' director of rugby Mark McCall (pic Chris Radburn/PA) Saracens' director of rugby Mark McCall (pic Chris Radburn/PA)

Sarries needed a bonus-point win to keep their hopes of qualifying for the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals alive, but it was the manner of the performance in the 62-14 win that delighted the Ulsterman.

He said: “When we played Clermont on that Monday night, we were in the middle of a difficult and tough situation.

“I’m incredibly proud of the players and staff for a positive six weeks because we had some really tough fixtures in that time.

“We had to go away four times, to Clermont, to Ospreys, to Leicester, to Wasps, and play the way we did in a pressure situation was outstanding.

“It might leave us with a few regrets if we don’t get through to the last eight but it does show what we’re capable of.

“We’re good enough to be in that company I think but it does give us confidence for the rest of the season.”

Three of the five runners-up from the five groups will advance to the last eight and Sarries have one of those places at the minute, with three groups yet to finish.

And McCall says that if they do make it, they could go all the way.

“We’ve seen it for years and we saw it tonight,” he added.

“We would love to be playing a big game in April but it doesn’t matter where it is as well. I know we’re capable of a performance like that and when we play like that we’re difficult o play against and difficult to beat.

“Should we go through, going away won’t hold any fear for our players. We’ve proved that against Wasps and Leicester but in the past we’ve gone to Racing and won so we’ll just be thrilled to stay in the competition.”

He had praise for Owen Farrell who racked up a personal points tally of 27 and was a key to the way Saracens looked as an attacking force.

He said: “[It was] just an amazing performance. He grows all the time as a player and a leader.

“He’s been one of many senior players during this period of time who has showed real maturity and real intelligence. You need the big experienced group we have in those six weeks. He’s been outstanding.”

The game was also the 250th appearance for Saracens’ full-back Alex Goode, one of seven try-scorers on the day.

“It was lovely to score,” he said. “My friends don’t expect me to score very often but they always say I tend to score on milestones. I think they’ll be pretty happy and I had a lot of friends and family come to watch.

“It was really nice obviously to get over the line but more importantly it was nice to be part of a brilliant performance from the boys.

“We’ve done everything we can now. The rest is out of our hands.

“There’s still plenty to work on. I think that first 20 minutes was poor defensively, great in attack but we weren’t alive and our scramble was poor.

“I think that’s been the story of our year. But for the next 60 minutes it was brilliant.

“I’m sure I’ll check the results at some point but for now it’s just about thanking the fans, thanking friends and family who have been on the journey with me.”

Being a milestone appearance he had the dubious honour of running out ahead of the teams alone, a situation he is not looking to repeat.

“It’s a strange feeling and not one I enjoy,” He laughed. “I usually go out last, I’m getting a bit more superstitious in my old age.

“And I don’t think I’ll be running out first anymore after my first touch.

“It’s a bit weird but it’s a nice thing. I’ve been at the club a long time and it doesn’t happen very often and I guess you have to take it and appreciate it.”

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