McCall relieved as Saracens hold on to tame Tigers after huge scare in second period
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Sarries led 21-3 at break, but an inspired Tigers side almost came back to win in second half
Mark McCall was a relieved man as Saracens withstood a second-half fightback from Leicester Tigers to win 27-22 away from home in the Gallagher Premiership.
Three tries in six first-half minutes helped the reigning champions, inspired by England utility man Alex Lozowski, to a 21-3 lead at half-time.
Tigers had made a promising start, dominating most of the first quarter, but could only put three points on the board and were undone by a three-try salvo late in the half.
Red Rose man Lozowski was played at inside centre by Eddie Jones in the nervy win over Japan and subsequently cut from the 23-man squad to face Australia.
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He led the north Londoners’ fine first-half efforts with his try, adding to long-range efforts from Ben Spencer and Alex Lewington, putting them 21-3 up at the break.
In the second half, the Allianz Park outfit were reduced to 13 men at one stage, but the Tigers were unable to complete the turnaround much to the relief of director of rugby McCall.
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“The last 25 minutes of the first half and we scored some great tries, solo efforts for the most part, so maybe the score didn’t reflect how even the first-half was,” he said.
“Until we went down to 13 men it was a pretty even game and then it was an incredible defensive effort.
“There were some outstanding individual performances, Brad Barritt as the captain led the effort in terms of putting his body on the line.
“It is a huge experience for the younger players in our squad to come to Welford Road.
“To be 21-3 up and comfortable and then go through that second half but find a way to win is a great experience.
“We really pleased with last month because we’ve exposed a lot of new players to game time.”
As for Leicester head coach Geordan Murphy, the former Ireland international was gutted to see his team come up just short.
“I’m incredibly disappointed because I thought the boys worked really, really hard so that’s the killer,” he said.
“It is difficult when you’re not on a winning streak, belief is hit and it is a difficult one.
“We’re working hard but making a couple of silly mistakes and teams at this level are good enough to punish you.
“We have to turn it around soon and get that inevitable win that will come at some stage of the season.
“At 21-3 down at half-time a side as good as Saracens can really hurt you.
“Our leaders did a really good job of resetting ourselves at half-time and we came out and got to the try line a couple of times that weren’t given, it went right down to the wire.
“We switched off for just a little bit and Saracens, as Saracens do, scored three tries.”