Apr 22, 2017
'Extraordinary' defence key to semi-final win - McCall
Mark McCall hailed his side’s defensive performance as his Saracens team squeezed the life out of an impassioned Munster in an 26-10 win at the Aviva Stadium.
Saracens were at their stubborn best in defence, with CJ Stander’s 80th minute try the only blemish on a near-perfect rear-guard display from McCall’s European Champions.
Played in a tinder-box atmosphere at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, Munster, supported by hordes of the Red Army, threatened to light the blue touch paper on several occasions at the home of Irish Rugby only for Saracens steadfast resolve to repeatedly frustrate them. With 16 points from the metronomic-like Owen Farrell, plus second-half tries from the brilliant Mako Vunipola and a late effort from substitute Chris Wyles, sealing the win for Saracens, they now march on to Edinburgh to play either ASM Clermont Auvergne or Leinster in the Final at Murrayfield on Saturday May 13.
Speaking after his side booked their place in their third Champions Cup final in the last four seasons, McCall said: “I thought our defence today was extraordinary. They (Munster) set on us early on and kept on attacking, but only came away with three points which was a great result. We couldn’t really escape our half in the first half but our defence remained good – I thought in the second half we began to get on top (in the game) but we blew two or three good chances to score. We blew another (chance) early in the game but we had to remain patient, not to get frustrated by those things and I thought we did and then our pressure actually told.
“They kick the ball a lot and they put our back field under some pressure as we knew they had some really good players (who are good) in the air. I thought our maul defence was good and our defence was the big thing of the game, we soaked up a lot of pressure.
"It was a brilliant occasion. Their (Munster’s) supporters are as good as any supporters in the world, and I thought that in the face of that the fight and togetherness that we had to show during the game was brilliant."
In beating Munster, Sarries have equalled Leinster’s (2010-12) record of remaining unbeaten in European Rugby’s premier competition with the Men in Black now undefeated in 16 games. On his side’s progression, the Sarries director of rugby has sounded out a warning to the rest of the continent that he expects more from his charges.
“We think we can get better,” McCall revealed. “We think that with the age profile is good and we obviously want this (success) to go on for a while.”