Search

Saracens boss Mark McCall hails returning stars in win over Sharks

10:01 26 January 2014

Mouritz Botha of Saracens. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Mouritz Botha of Saracens. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

2012 Getty Images

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall hailed the returning performances of a number of previously injured players as the Premiership leaders beat Currie Cup champions Sharks 23-15 in a one-off game at Allianz Park.

David Strettle opened the scoring with his fourth score in two games and Charlie Hodgson added an intercept try plus 13 points with the boot as the Hendon side took a 20-3 lead into the break.

Sharks scored twice in the second half through Andre Esterhuizen and Heimar Williams but Sarries held them off for a famous win.

The Londoners’ forwards were thoroughly dominant in the opening 40 minutes with Mouritz Botha, making his first start in two months, claiming the man-of-the match award, while Jacques Burger returned from minor knee surgery to put in a ferociously physical display, even by his standards.

McCall said: “One of the most pleasing things for me was we have a number of guys who haven’t been playing very much in the last four or five weeks though injury.

“Jacques Burger was playing his first game for five weeks, Mo [Botha] was playing his first [full] game for two months, Tagi [Michael Tagicakibau] was playing his first game for four weeks and Justin Melck playing his first game for a while.

“Those players got invaluable game time which is great.”

The friendly clash was a rare chance for a northern and southern hemisphere club side to face each other and McCall named a strong side despite Saracens having an LV= Cup clash at home to Newcastle Falcons today.

“It was different this week,” he said, adding: “We’ve had nine tough games prior to this – five Premiership games and four Heineken Cup matches – and the players deserve a bit of a break, but the they were really excited about this game.

“There was nothing riding on the result today but we’ve got a very competitive group who want to win things and we saw that competitiveness out there today, especially in the second half when things were difficult. We had to physically front up and I thought we were magnificent.”

Botha told the club’s website: “It was a brilliant performance.

“It is amazing to play alongside these boys. It was 15 mates playing alongside each other, it’s just great.

“I love it when big lads just run straight at you, and they had some really big, physical guys playing for them. It was just a great day and I really enjoyed myself out of there today.”

Burger said: “I am as proud of the team’s performance as I was my own. We were brilliant out there.

“We knew that their big guys would be coming around the corner out there pretty hard, and if you let these guys play then they will dominate you. So we knew they were going to be pretty physical and get off the line, which meant we had to get in their faces and not give them a second.

“We are really proud of our performance, everyone really stepped up today and we are happy with how we went out there.

On his return from surgery, the Namibian international said: “Being on the sidelines again for a few weeks means that every time I play I savour it, and I treat it if it were my last game of rugby. I just really enjoy playing rugby and to have that opportunity to battle against a great team was brilliant.”

Related articles

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

07:07
Highgate captain Jake Sharland

Highgate captain Jake Sharland wants his side to forget about results and focus on enjoying the game as they attempt to turn their season around.

Yesterday, 11:38
James Ward (right) congratulates Novak Djokovic on his victory at Wimbledon

Camden’s James Ward says he enjoyed “an unbelievable day” on Wimbledon’s Centre Court on Monday, having taken the world No1 and reigning champion Novak Djokovic to a tie-break.

Yesterday, 10:13
North Middlesex's Connor Nurse took 4-20 against league leaders Ealing but was less successful when he opened the batting, being bowled first ball. Pic: Max Flego

North Middlesex find themselves just one point above the relegation zone in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League after their latest failure with the bat resulted in a defeat against leaders Ealing.

Mon, 15:26
James Ward (left) enters Centre Court behind the reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic

Camden’s James Ward took the world No1 and reigning champion Novak Djokovic to a tie-break in the first round at Wimbledon but was defeated in straight sets on Centre Court.

Mon, 12:43
Henry Collier claimed his second five-for of the season but Hampstead were unable to take Twickenham's  final wicket. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Chairman Nick Brown was pleased with Hampstead’s latest performance, but he feels 25 points have been dropped in games that should have been won after they were held to another draw in the Premier Division.

Friday, June 24, 2016
Harriet Dart. Pic: Paolo Minoli

West Hampstead’s Harriet Dart narrowly missed out on a place in the main draw at Wimbledon after a marathon three-set thriller in her final qualifying match.

Friday, June 24, 2016
James Ward

Camden’s James Ward will face world No1 Novak Djokovic in the first round of Wimbledon after the draw was made this morning.

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Middlesex's Dawid Malan

Skipper Dawid Malan struck an unbeaten half-century to lead Middlesex to a thrilling victory over Somerset in a rain-reduced T20 clash at Lord’s.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe