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McCall: Saracens failed to capitalise on dominance

PUBLISHED: 10:30 18 November 2017

Saracens’ Alex Goode gives chase to ball with Gloucester Rugby’s Ruan Ackermann during the Aviva Premiership match at Kingsholm Stadium (pic Nick Potts/PA)

Saracens’ Alex Goode gives chase to ball with Gloucester Rugby’s Ruan Ackermann during the Aviva Premiership match at Kingsholm Stadium (pic Nick Potts/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Saracens coach Mark McCall accepted that his side had failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance in a 23-17 defeat against Gloucester.

Saracens’ Sean Maitland runs at Gloucester Rugby’s Ruan Ackermann (left) and Tom Savage (right) during the Aviva Premiership match at Kingsholm Stadium (pic Nick Potts/PA) Saracens’ Sean Maitland runs at Gloucester Rugby’s Ruan Ackermann (left) and Tom Savage (right) during the Aviva Premiership match at Kingsholm Stadium (pic Nick Potts/PA)

Defeat looked highly unlikely when the visitors led by eight points midway through the second half but tries from Ollie Thorley and Tom Hudson took Gloucester to a morale-boosting success.

Billy Twelvetrees converted both tries and kicked three penalties, with Schalk Brits scoring Saracens’ try to add to three penalties from Alex Lozowski and one from Ben Spencer.

“We are frustrated for we were in control for large parts of the game and when we went 14-6 up, I thought the game was ours but we gave away sloppy penalties to give them field positions too easily,” said McCall.

“We should have made them work harder for their two tries but Gloucester defended superbly and scrambled well in their own 22.

“I was pleased at the way we played in the first half but we didn’t get the appropriate reward, but Gloucester are a good team who showed a lot of character.”

Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann praised his side’s determination for fighting back to claim victory at Kingsholm.

He said: “We are delighted to get over the winning line as we showed a lot of character and fight to win a massive challenge against a great side.

“We were nervous in the first half and we could have attacked better as we weren’t fluent and gave away easy penalties.

“We knew their off-load game evolving around Schalk Brits had to be stopped and our one-on-one tackling was much better than in recent weeks.

“However, we don’t want to get carried away with one win as we need to be more consistent as we haven’t travelled well this season. We must knuckle down and deal with games week-by-week, starting with our next game at Newcastle.”

Man of the match Twelvetrees paid tribute to Gloucester’s huge first-half defensive effort and praised referee Karl Dickson, the former Harlequins scrum-half who was taking charge of his first Premiership game.

He said: “Our defence was brilliant as we stuck together as a unit and to get to half-time without conceding a try was a massive confidence booster.

“We knew if we could cut our errors, we would soon be back in the game and that’s what happened in next to no time.

“Seeing Dicko as the ref was strange. I didn’t know what to say as I played 20-odd games with him as half-back partners at Bedford.

“He gave me a wry smile to start and I thought he had a great game on his Premiership debut.”

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