Saracens look for a reaction against Newcastle after being bitten by Sale Sharks
08:00 26 February 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Saracens return to Allianz Park on Saturday when Newcastle Falcons are the visitors – and the hosts are aiming to return to winning ways after a disappointing display against Sale Sharks last weekend.
Sarries were beaten 14-10 in Manchester, salvaging a losing bonus point after a late try from Richard Barrington but failing to reach the heights of their previous performance against Bath – which frustrated director of rugby Mark McCall.
“Overall, we are very disappointed,” lamented McCall. “We must give Sale credit, they were excellent. They out-muscled us, out-manoeuvred us and got the better of us, at line-out time in particular.
“They were clinical when they had their chances. I think in that first half we were a little out-fought and out-muscled, which is frustrating for us.
“We weren’t good enough in the first half but we improved in the second half and we will have to get better, starting against Newcastle on Saturday.”
Saracens sit third in the Premiership table and, with just one point separating the Hendon outfit and seventh-placed Wasps and seven games remaining in the regular league season, it promises to be an exciting run-in.
With players currently away on international duty, McCall has had to call on some of the younger members of his squad in recent weeks, with academy graduates Nick Tompkins, Maro Itoje and Matt Hankin all playing their part.
All three were part of the successful England Under-20 World Cup-winning squad last year and they have carried that into their performances with Saracens.
“Both Maro and Matt Hankin deserve all the minutes they get,” said centre Tompkins, who is set to continue in the side against Newcastle.
“They have both played fantastically in the LV=Cup games and the Saracens Storm campaign and both of them have put their hands up.
“It’s just about bringing as much energy as possible to every game and, although it was disappointing against Sale, we worked really hard in that second half and nearly got something from the game.
“We know we need to really improve our performance against Newcastle this weekend – they have shown in recent weeks that they are really improving as a team.”