McCall eyes 'massive' clash against Glasgow as Saracens aim for home quarter-final
PUBLISHED: 16:00 14 January 2019
PA Archive/PA Images
North Londoners cantered in a 28-10 success in Lyon last weekend
Delighted Saracens boss Mark McCall felt his side showed signs of old as they claimed another “priceless” away win over Lyon to seal their place in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals.
The Premiership high-flyers became the first team to book their spot in the last eight after beating Lyon 28-10 and they can earn a home tie in the knockout stages when they face Glasgow next weekend.
McCall, whose side limped into the quarter-finals last season in eighth spot, described that match as “massive” as Saracens - champions in 2016 and 2017 - bid to finish top of Pool 3 with a sixth successive win.
He said: “We’ve got 23 points and we haven’t won our pool yet. We have a mighty game to look forward to against Glasgow next weekend.
“It was important to win for this competition and it was a really good team performance - it felt a little bit like old Saracens. I am thrilled because that’s three great away wins in this competition.
“Away wins are priceless and it really sets us up for next weekend. We want to get a home quarter-final and next weekend is massive.”
Nick Tompkins scored two tries for the English champions with Jackson Wray and Ben Spencer also crossing. Owen Farrell added the extras for all four scores.
Lyon had taken an early lead through Jonathan Wisniewski’s drop-goal and completed the scoring with Alexis Palisson’s converted try, but in between it was all Saracens.
McCall added: “Lyon is a real tough place to go and we knew they would fight for everything, and they did. We had to work hard to get the four tries and I’m really pleased.
“We had been talking about field position and we dominated in that area and put them in positions they didn’t want to be in. Off the back of that we tackled well and scored the four tries.”
Even though they have only dropped two points in their five matches in Pool 3, and have won all three on the road, Saracens will still have to beat Glasgow at the Allianz Arena on Saturday to top the group after the Scottish side beat Cardiff Blues 33-24 at Scotstoun.
The game will be a re-match of the 2017 quarter-final, which Saracens won 38-13 on their way to a second title, and will give the Scottish team a chance to avenge their 13-3 home defeat in round one in October.
If Saracens can pick up another bonus-point win they will equal their own Champions Cup record of 28 points which set them up for their title in 2016.
However, it looks as though they will have to go into that game without Scotland and British & Irish Lions wing Sean Maitland, who came off in the 19th minute.
“Sean Maitland came off with a tight hamstring and with a six day turn-around he will struggle for next weekend,” said McCall.
Both McCall and acting Sarries skipper Farrell were full of praise for young centre Tompkins, who followed up his try in the Premiership last week with two more in Lyon.
“He is a young player who has always been a talent and who just needed a run of games. He has had that of late and done a great job in the last few months,” added McCall.