Rugby: McCall rues small Saracens mistakes
PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 November 2017
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Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was left to rue small mistakes which cost his side in their 20-18 defeat to Aviva Premiership leaders Exeter at Allian Park.
With both sides missing their international stars, the Chiefs fell behind as Alex Goode and Schalk Brits gave Saracens a 15-8 advantage at the break.
But Ian Whitten and Moray Low touched down for the visitors in the second half to end a run of 19 home league games without defeat for Saracens.
Exeter moved five points clear at the top of the table with their win and McCall said: “Small things against good teams make a big difference and we had a line-out maul five metres from their line, which we almost converted.
“It was a very tough game, two good teams, we were under a lot more pressure than they were under for large parts of the game and we put a huge amount in effort-wise.
“Exeter were controlling the ball, controlling where the game was played, their kicking game was good and we couldn’t really get out of our half in that last 20 minutes.”
Opposite number Rob Baxter praised the spirit and determination of his Chiefs side as they overhauled a nine-point deficit.
He said: “Once we decided to fully commit to it, physically, mentally and tactically, things were getting a lot more comfortable for us, but it was still in the balance right until the end.
“I’ve got to give the players great credit for great character and the best thing for us is we’ve won a game of rugby away from home in the Premiership, which are very, very precious points.
“To take it against a team very close to you in the league is very important as well and we’ve definitely got some stuff we can work on this week.
“There was great endeavour from all the players, great effort, we were a little bit shaky in the last four or five minutes when we took the lead.
“You’ve got to say the players showed fantastic character because not many teams come back from that position against Saracens and we’ve managed to do it.”
Saracens opening two tries came either side of Nic White’s yellow card after the Exeter scrum-half was adjudged to have deliberately knocked-on.
Two Gareth Steenson penalties and Whitten’s try kept the Chiefs in touch before Low got the crucial score, under the posts, from a short-range pick and drive.