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Rugby: Saracens ‘very poor’ says McCall

PUBLISHED: 07:52 26 February 2018 | UPDATED: 07:52 26 February 2018

Saracens' Mark McCall during a press conference (pic Chris Radburn/PA)

Saracens' Mark McCall during a press conference (pic Chris Radburn/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said his side must improve defensively after a disappointing home performance against Leicester.

Two late tries from Max Malins proved little consolation in a 28-20 loss at Allianz Park, as Saracens missed the chance to return to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

And McCall said: “We never really recovered from the first half. We defended the whole of the half and didn’t defend very well, lost a lot of collisions all the way through.

“Give Leicester some credit – they were really confrontational in attack and kept on winning the gain line and we were going backwards a lot of the time.

“One thing leads to another and our attack then suffered, we got a bit individual, but at the same time, overall it was a very poor display by us.

“The injuries didn’t help, but there’s no real excuses because we had a good starting XV and the kids who came off the bench did brilliantly, in the last 15-20 minutes. They gave us a nice good bit of energy.”

The Tigers had never beaten Saracens at Allianz Park but tries from Manu Tuilagi, Greg Bateman and Telusa Veainu had them 21-6 up at the break.

Jonah Holmes sealed the bonus point in the second half after more good work from Tuilagi with Australian international Matt Toomua slotting four conversions.

Former England Under-20s player Malins ran in two fine late scores for the hosts as Michele Rizzo was shown a yellow card but Saracens remain four points behind league leaders Exeter Chiefs.

“We carried really hard in the close channels and shortened up their defensive line so they didn’t get the opportunity to get line speed and put us under pressure behind the ball,” said Tigers’ Matt O’Connor.

“I think our respect for Saracens drove the performance and the preparation during the week was exceptional, we know how good they are and how efficient they are.

“That was the base around why we needed to come down here and be as accurate as we could. I thought we delivered exceptionally well in the first half.”

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