Rugby Union: Mark McCall praises determination of Saracens after big win at Northampton Saints in European Champions Cup
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Men in Black began title defence with eight-try crushing of Aviva Premiership rivals
Mark McCall acclaimed Saracens’ determination to put Northampton Saints to the sword in their 57-13 European Champions Cup victory at Franklin’s Gardens.
The European champions had already secured the bonus point by half-time but they refused to take their foot off the throats of opponents who collapsed to their heaviest home defeat in any competition.
Whereas a 41-3 lead at Twickenham six weeks ago saw Saints fight back to 55-24, this time Saracens were far more ruthless as they crossed a further four times to issue a statement of intent in their pursuit of a third successive Champions Cup title.
“It was definitely our best performance of the year and one of the real pleasing things was how long we sustained it for,” director of rugby McCall said.
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“The group challenged themselves at half-time to maintain the intensity that was shown in the first half whether we had the ball or they had the ball.
“Jackson Wray and Owen Farrell tackled Courtney Lawes five metres from our goal line and that typified how much it meant to us not to concede a try even though we ended up conceding a try.
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“We fought with everything we had, we defended well in the second half and played some really good stuff with the ball in the first half.
“This was a big game. None of us thought that it was going to end up the way that it ended up but when we play like that and when we click like we did, your attack’s a lot easier and that was the case in the first half.”
Farrell’s first half tip tackle on Ben Foden may interest the citing officer, but McCall was more concerned by the England fly-half’s subsequent reaction when confronted by Teimana Harrison.
Farrell, who was otherwise outstanding, caught Harrison with a light elbow to the face.
“I thought the tackle was fine, but his reaction when himself and Teimana Harrison were at each other worried me a little bit,” McCall said.