Mar 05, 2016
McCall happy with effort in frustrating defeat to Saints
Mark McCall praised his side’s effort despite in their 20-15 defeat to Northampton Saints at Allianz Park.
The Saracens director of rugby refused to be downbeat despite seeing his team edged out by the Saints, with the Northern Irishman highlighting his teams resolve in what McCall described as a “challenging period” for his squad during the Six Nations.
“This is the sixth game with this group of players and it’s been tough,” said McCall. “Despite the fact that we’re disappointed at losing today, to have accumulated 16 points [in this period], I think we’ll be ok. If we can get a win next weekend that will set us up really nicely because we’ve got the cavalry arriving back for the last five Premiership games and we’re all in a race to get as many points as it takes to get in the top four and thankfully we’ve got a fair few points and enough games left to hopefully secure that spot.
“In terms of the big stuff that you require week in week out - energy and intent and physicality - I thought we had that our big stuff was pretty good today. We defended much better at times, some of our ball carrying work was good, but we got a lot of small things wrong today. Our details at our exit breakdowns, we got charged down a couple of times, our details at their exit breakdowns, they picked and went through our ruck a few times there, I think we knocked on three balls as we tried to set up our mauls in their 22. You can’t make mistakes like that and expect to win games but I thought we fought really hard and fronted up for 80 minutes and this is tremendously challenging period for us.
“We definitely got on the wrong side of the referee today, got penalised a lot for not releasing in the tackle and that combined with some of small detail things we got wrong allowed them to put pressure on us and us not to put pressure on them. I thought though that we fought really hard and we were there right at the end.
“We were against almost the team that they’ll bring here in four weeks’ time for the quarter final they’ve got Dylan (Hartley) to bring back, George (North) to bring back in. We’ve got a fair few to bring back ourselves. Ironically all the people who are injured, as well as the international players that we’ve got, Richard Wigglesworth, Charlie, Rhys Gill, Will Fraser, Al Hargreaves, the suspensions of Ashy (Chris Ashton) Schalk Brits, they’ll be back at the same time as the internationals. We’re going to have a whole flock of players.
“We’ve asked a lot of this group of players at the moment, Jim Hamilton and Hayden Smith have been required to play every minute of every game and it’s tough to do that in this kind of Premiership and we’re not able to rotate in the way that we normally do. If you look at the games we’ve played we had two great away performances to get the win away down in Exeter and three points against Sale, great wins against Gloucester with 14 men and against Bath and the horror show against Wasps."
McCall added: “I thought today was ok actually, we rolled our sleeves up pretty well and came away with a point and we will move on.“