McCall hails Max effect as Saracens come from behind to tame Bristol Bears
PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 December 2019
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Saracens coach Mark McCall likened Max Malins to New Zealand full-back Beauden Barrett after their 47-13 victory over Bristol.
The Gallagher Premiership champions looked like they would be in for a real fight against the Bears until Malins' try on the stroke of half-time allowed them to romp home.
He added a second try after the break and the 22-year-old, who is also capable of playing at fly-half, was then compared to the similarly versatile All Black by McCall.
"Max Malins at full-back just looked like a great player," he said. "He reminds me a little bit of a young Beauden Barrett who wanted to be a fly-half but played 15 in his early years for the Hurricanes and the All Blacks."
The five points helped Saracens cut the gap on Leicester at the foot of the table following their 35-point deduction, but McCall insists the position in the table is not a focus.
He added: "We are not counting points; well I am certainly not looking at the table.
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"I'm actually really pleased with the way we defended in the last 15 minutes because the game was done and won, and I thought we had an appetite not to concede during that period which was really encouraging.
"What I am really pleased about is that we could have been frustrated with the scoreboard after 30 minutes but we stuck to task and kept going and I think all of the points we scored in the second half were a result of some of the really good work done in the first half."
The Bears had started strongly with an early Luke Morahan try, but from the moment Malins ran in Sarries' second for a 14-13 half-time lead, the home side cruised with Pat Lam in no doubt as to where the game was lost.
He said: "The 10 minutes after half-time were the worst 10 minutes we have played all year.
"The thing we said about Sarries is that you just cannot give them any ins into the game, you have got to go toe to toe and stay in the fight.
"Unfortunately, we conceded soft tries after half-time, missing high balls, silly penalties, little knock-ons and all of these things gave them field position and then they just rolled and started to go.
"Then we were just playing catch-up and that's why I got some of the key boys off for next week, but I can't fault the effort.
"We knew when you play a quality team like this it is just like playing a final because they are desperate to win these games and they are a good side and they have built that over 11 years."