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Rugby: McCall praises Saracens resilience in defeat

PUBLISHED: 13:00 25 February 2019

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall (pic Jonathan Brady/PA)

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall (pic Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Saracens head coach Mark McCall praised his side’s resilience as they secured a potentially valuable bonus point late on in defeat at Gloucester.

A week after toppling then Premiership leaders Exeter, Gloucester beat Saracens – who had replaced the Chiefs at the top of the table – 30-24 at Kingsholm.

Although there was only six points separating the sides at the end after Saracens scored two late converted tries, it was a fully deserved victory for the Cherry and Whites and left them third in the Premiership standings.

Saracens, who trailed 16-3 at the interval, responded with converted second-half tries from Michael Rhodes, Jackson Wray and Matt Gallagher but it was too little too late.

McCall said: “We were 30-10 down so I liked the unity we showed in the last 25 minutes to keep fighting to get a bonus point.

“We have a lot of internationals out but it is what it is and I’m proud of this group as with that bonus point we’ve picked up 15 points in the last four games with two matches in this block still to come.

“We were miles off in the first half and were second best everywhere as we lost most of the collisions so they had all the momentum.

“Our physicality was better in the second half and we battled hard as we could easily have given up.”

Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann is refusing to get carried away despite seeing his side claim a second successive notable scalp.

Ben Morgan claimed two tries and the man of the match award with Ed Slater also crossing and Billy Twelvetrees kicking 15 points.

Ackerman said: “It was important to back up last week’s win and we knew it would be tough, but it was a bit disappointing to knock off for the last five minutes to let them score two tries.

“However, the balance of our play was good as we were patient to keep Saracens pinned in their own half and attacking at the right times.

“It was a good victory but we haven’t achieved anything yet as the competition is very close and we have some tough away games to come. We have to stay humble, work hard and continue to tick the right boxes.”

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