Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was pleased to overcome a sticky start and see his side guarantee top spot in the Gallagher Premiership table at the end of regular season.

London Irish's hopes of a semi-final place were dashed after a convincing 45-21 win for the leaders.

Irish had competed fiercely for the first hour, but fell away badly in the face of Saracens' onslaught.

McCall said: "We weren't very good in the first 25 minutes as there were a lot of basic errors but I thought we coped well with that sticky period as our leading players dragged us through it.

"We scrapped ourselves out of it and by half-time we had laid the foundations for an excellent second-half performance.

"We've had a disjointed couple of weeks after the La Rochelle game and we needed to give some of leading players a rest which we succeeded in doing last week."

Irish have not won away at Saracens in the Premiership since February 2014 and, to complete a bleak day for them, it was the most points they had conceded in any game this season.

Eroni Mawi scored two tries for Saracens with Alex Goode, Sean Maitland and Theo Dan also on the score-sheet. Owen Farrell converted four and added four penalties.

Matt Rogerson and Mike Willemse scored tries for Irish with Paddy Jackson kicking three penalties and a conversion to take him past 200 league points for the season.

Next up for Saracens is an away fixture at Bath, which will have a bearing on European Cup qualification for next season with the West Country side roaring back into a contention following a couple of excellent wins.

McCall added: "We've got three weeks before the semi-finals now and it's a fine line as to who you pick but obviously maintaining momentum would be beneficial."

Saracens rested key players against Northampton last week to allow Saints to pick a valuable five points which ultimately secured them a play-off spot ahead of Irish.

But Irish's director of rugby Declan Kidney refused to offer that as an excuse.

"By being top of the table, Saracens earned the right to pick the team they wanted," Kidney said.

"We want to play the best teams and get good results against them.

"We started well but Saracens took the momentum away from us.

"There were a number of crucial moments around the half-time period with big swings and although we did well to get back into it at 20-16, we need to start winning those moments or minutes which prove crucial."