McCall hails super defensive effort as spirited Saracens keep Falcons at arm’s length

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall (pic Nigel French/PA)

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall (pic Nigel French/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Mark McCall hailed his spirited Saracens side after they produced a masterful defensive display in a 25-3 win over Newcastle Falcons.

Richard Barrington and Max Malins crossed for the European champions, while there was also a first-half penalty try as they controlled a bruising contest at Allianz Park.

The hosts restricted Newcastle to just a Joel Hodgson penalty as they closed the gap between them and league leaders Exeter Chiefs to just one point.

“It was a good workmanlike performance in very difficult conditions,” said McCall.

“We were very pleased with the first half performance when we were playing into a very strong wind and obviously it was pouring with rain, so to control the first half the way that we did was very pleasing.

“Our set-piece was on top, we carried the ball well and we went down and scored a couple of tries.

“We were a little bit disappointed with the way we played in the second half and that we weren’t able to capitalise on the margin of the lead that we had at half-time.

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“In conditions like that it is just about doing fundamental things well. Our scrum and line-out was generally strong.”

After an opening half hour where both sides had to settle for penalties, Sarries scored the first try with a pick-and-go put down under the posts by prop Barrington.

They added a second four minutes later when TMO Trevor Fisher adjudged that Williams had been tackled off the ball by Falcons winger Sinoti Sinoti, attempting to get a hand on Alex Lozowski’s chip through.

And Malins added a third try late in the match, minutes after coming off the bench, taking full advantage of the weather conditions to slide over the line.

“It was a difficult afternoon, you’re playing against a team that have lost a few players and have the ability to bring in a team of superstars,” said Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards.

“We found it difficult to compete with them on the day and the bit of stardust they have probably shone through.

“We’re a bit disappointed because ultimately our game-plan was not to give them opportunity and to be playing in the right areas. We didn’t execute that as well as we could in the first half, but I thought the second half we started to do that a bit better.”