McCall pleased at Saracens' Premiership progress during latest international window
PUBLISHED: 10:00 04 March 2019
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Mark McCall is content with the way Saracens are coping with the international windows this season, after a convincing 36-17 win over Northampton.
As a side hit by international call-ups harde than most, Saracens have often struggled during the Autumn Internationals and Six Nations, but the triumph at Allianz Park was their fourth win in five Gallagher Premiership games during those periods.
Two first-half tries from Sean Maitland – as well as scores from Nick Tompkins, David Strettle and Tom Woolstencroft – meant the game was over as a contest by the interval but losing the second half 14-7 left something of a bitter taste for director of rugby McCall.
“Overall, we’re very pleased to have won the game and to have got five points is great,” he said.
“But it was soured a little bit by how we played in the last 20 minutes because we got ahead of ourselves and did things we wouldn’t ordinarily do.
“We judge ourselves on effort and outcome and the second half was very disappointing. We made a lot of decisions based on the scoreboard rather than what was best for the situation, so it’s a very frustrated changing room because of how we played in the second half.
“But this group of players has done very well during the international windows, which have been challenging for us over the past couple of years.
“We’ve won four out of five games, got 20 points from those matches and it’s a great effort from the group.”
Saints dotted down through Reece Marshall and skipper Lewis Ludlam in the second half but, in truth, those tries were little more than consolation.
It was a ninth consecutive defeat against Saracens for Northampton, yet director of rugby Chris Boyd will not lose any sleep over another loss to the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions and was pleased with the second-half display.
“There are games you consider bonus games and if you can get a victory against Saracens at Allianz Park it is a real bonus,” said Boyd.
“They were too good for us in the first 40 minutes. They really applied a lot of pressure and we battled to get our game going because we couldn’t get a steady supply of ball.
“Hats off to them because they delivered a really good first 40. On the other side of it, I was happy that we knuckled down and didn’t go away in the last 40 minutes. There are some really good learnings for us as a group collectively.
“We’ve got a young group that is full of enthusiasm but without a supply of quality ball, it makes it very difficult for them to impose their game.”