Questions over Saracens defence after 'magnificent' London Irish comeback

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall before the Gallagher Premiership match at the StoneX Stadium,

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall at the StoneX Stadium. - Credit: PA

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was full of praise for London Irish, but questioned his side’s defensive play as they were held to a draw after holding a commanding lead.

Sarries had to settle for honours even after a dramatic 34-34 draw against London Irish at the StoneX Stadium. Mark McCall’s side scored five tries and at one point had a 34-8 lead in the second half, but the Exiles completed their late comeback with a converted try in the final minute. 

He said: "It's very hard to put your finger on why what happened, happened, but the very first thing is to congratulate London Irish. 

"It was a magnificent display by them with 14 men, they've been doing this all season, they've done it again and they're a club with some real fight and some real quality and we knew that, and to come back from 34-8 down with 14 men is something special. 

"It's probably a combination of things, maybe thinking the game was done and dusted which most people thought at 34-8, but we hadn't been defending well all game to be honest. 

"There were some tell-tale signs in the last 20 minutes of the first half when they were down to 14 men, they had some opportunities near our line and our defensive team's confidence got worse and worse I thought, we were easy to play against, and fair play to them for taking full advantage." 

Director of rugby Declan Kidney highlighted London Irish's conditioning as they pulled off another miraculous comeback to draw 34-34 with Saracens despite playing nearly an hour with 14 men. 

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He said: "I think you need to watch the effort that goes in because there was a lot of good rugby, I think that's a collective effort between players, coaches and the medical team having everyone in that condition against a top-class side like Saracens. 

"We're absolutely delighted with the comeback and that's the important thing to recognise right now straight after the match, to draw when you're away from home and get three points is never a bad day's work and then in the cold light of day we'll take a look at the bits that we can improve on, because we know that there's so much scope for us to get better."