Feb 29, 2016
Battling qualities please McCall after Sarries draw in Salford
Mark McCall praised his side’s resilience and character after battling back from 17-0 down to draw with Sale Sharks in round 14 of the Aviva Premiership at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.
The Saracens director of rugby praised his team’s collective effort as Saracens continue to collect points despite a host of players being away on international duty or unavailable due to injury and suspension.
Speaking after the two sides shared the spoils in a ten-try thriller, McCall said: “Overall we’ve got to be satisfied. To get three points at a place where a lot of teams have struggled this year, especially when we were 17-0 after fifteen minutes, I thought we showed some real resilience and some good character to get back into the game. We knew we were playing into a really strong wind in the second half, so we showed even more reliance really as they nudged themselves back in front. I suppose the only disappointing thing is, when you get to 36-26 up, which seemed remarkable really with the start we had, it’s a little bit disappointing that we allowed them back in but I think it was deserved given the balance of play.”
Sale Sharks remain unbeaten at the AJ Bell Stadium in the 2015/16 season after drawing with McCall’s Premiership champions, and the Northern Irishman praised the club’s younger players who have excelled in trying circumstances after Sarries conceded three early tries.
“We made a couple of individual errors that they punished,” said McCall about the Sharks’ blistering start. “They attacked really well, they scored a try from 80 metres on a scrum play, we made a big error that they took advantage of from the restart. It’s happened to us a couple of times over the last few weeks, but I suppose it’s about what happens after you’re 17 points down, that’s the important thing. Charlie (Hodgson) had to go off injured before halftime and I think a lot of our younger guys stood out today, and stood up today.
“We needed to tighten up our defence, as I thought we defended really poorly in the opening twenty minutes but I think we defended well in the second half, despite them scoring a couple of tries. In the last ten minutes they had to work hard for their tries, in contrast they didn’t have to work hard in the first fifteen minutes for the first three tries that they scored.
"In the last sixty minutes of the game we showed some the characteristics that we expect to have, characteristics we didn’t show in the first twenty minutes of the game. . Overall, a good three points for us."
“This is hugely difficult period for us. This is the fifth game of this period and we’ve got a stack of players missing and I’m really chuffed with the resilience and effort that these players who played today have shown over the last five weeks. We’ve got fifteen points from those five games, really difficult games, and I think we should be really pleased with that
“We’re all in a race to get as many points as we possibly can to get ourselves into the qualifying slots, and maybe these three points that we got today will be very important come the end of the season.”