Saracens ‘shocked’ by record Champions Cup loss
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Mark McCall admitted Saracens were shocked by their 46-14 collapse to Clermont in a record Champions Cup defeat for the holders.
The heavyweight Pool Two showdown had been delayed by 26 hours due to adverse conditions around Allianz Park and it was the French giants who better adapted to the delay by amassing six tries in a repeat of last season’s final.
Saracens lost up to £300,000 due to the postponement and their misery was extended on to the pitch where they crashed to their greatest loss in European competition and a sixth-successive defeat before a crowd of 2,661.
“We didn’t see that coming,” said director of rugby McCall.
“I know we’ve lost a few games in a row, but they were relatively tight games that we lost by a point or two here or there, but we never saw that coming.
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“It shows what conceding a couple of early tries for the opposition can do to your confidence, but we missed so many tackles which is unlike us.
“Individuals were falling off tackles and Clermont have the individuals to penalise us for that.
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“We felt good as a group before the game, so the postponement wasn’t really relevant.”
Saracens missed a total of 37 tackles and it was Fijian wing Alivereti Raka who made the most of their generosity, completing a five-minute hat-trick inside the first 25 minutes of the match.
The rivals meet again in France on Sunday with Clermont now occupying first place in Pool Two with three rounds of the group phase remaining.
“What we said in the changing room is that by the end of January we hope we can be proud of how we we respond to this difficult situation we find ourselves in,” McCall said.
“Potentially that isn’t just about outcomes because we have a difficult game against Clermont away in six days, it’s also about staying tight as a group and sticking together as a group.
“We’ve got enough good players at the club and people who care about the club enough to respond in the right way over a six-week period.
“We have three Champions Cup games and three Aviva Premiership games to try to find some form and get back to our true selves.
“That won’t be easy because we’ve got a few injuries, but let’s see how we respond in six weeks time to this very difficult situation.”