Rugby Union: Mark McCall praises Saracens players after narrow victory against Ospreys
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Sarries triumphed 36-34 at Allianz Park on Saturday
Mark McCall praised Saracens’ ability to find a way past the Ospreys’ spirited challenge in a roller-coaster 36-34 Champions Cup victory at Allianz Park.
The Welsh region had won only one of seven matches before arriving in north London but by the 26th minute they led 17-7 and their evening finished with two bonus points, Sam Cross touching down in the 79th minute to double their reward.
Saracens issued a statement of intent in their European title defence by running eight tries past Northampton, but this was a below-par performance even if the result restored the champions to the summit of Pool Two at the expense of Clermont.
“Give Ospreys all the credit, they played phenomenally,” director of rugby McCall said.
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“It was a very difficult game and they made us struggle to get quick ball whereas we got plenty of quick ball last week.
“They defended well and put us under real pressure in attack. At times we showed some good resilience, to come back from 17-7 down.
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“When things aren’t going your way some times, your decision making on the ball can get looser and we probably weren’t as precise as we needed to be and we chose the wrong options from time to time. But that’s rugby and that’s sport.
“We talked about it during the week, saying that this match might be more frustrating, but at the end of it all we found a way to win and a way to win with a bonus point.
“We’re in a good position in the table, but a snapshot of our season at this stage is we’ve been inconsistent.”
Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones felt the display at Allianz Park was a step in the right direction from a team that lost back rows Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric to injury on the day of the game.
“We’ve fallen short here. Winning is a habit and unfortunately losing can be a habit too. I’d like to think we’re not in the habit of losing but we’ve come close in a few games previously,” Jones said.
“Against Saracens we looked like a team that hasn’t lost as many games as we have in previous weeks, but ultimately we fell short.
“We deserve to have a bit of pride in the performance, but that doesn’t mean we accept mediocrity and we have to go again next week.”