May 20, 2017
Proud McCall hails fighting spirit in play-off defeat
Mark McCall thanked his players for a ‘season to be proud of’ after Saracens were defeated 18-16 at Sandy Park by Exeter on Saturday.
The opening exchanges were tight as the teams went into the interval level but a Jack Nowell try early in the second half meant the Men in Black had to rally. And they did, through Chris Wyles and Mike Ellery before the Chiefs snatched victory at the death.
The Sarries director was full of praise for Exeter, the team narrowly defeated by his team in the 2016 final.
He started his post-match press conference by explaining: “The first thing to do is just to say well done to Exeter and to wish them all the best for next weekend, to reach the final two consecutive years is tremendous for them and a brilliant end to their season.
“It was a funny game and I thought we were pretty good for 20 minutes and had a lot of opportunities in terms of set pieces five metres from their line in the first 20 minutes but came away with relatively little and in the next 20 minutes we were second best.”
The North London club were fresh off the back of a second successive European Champions Cup to seal a memorable season and McCall expressed his pride at his players performance after the match.
He said: “What I’m most proud about is what happened in the second-half because we conceded early in the second half and I think a lot of teams then just fold.
“But we kept on fighting and kept on scrapping and kept on battling away to stay in the contest and give ourselves opportunities and even after we’d taken the lead with 6 minutes left on the clock we played them to perfection and showed all of our experience.
McCall has seen the club win three Premiership titles and now two Champions Cups since taking over as Head Coach before a move to become Director of Rugby in 2011
He thanked his players before praising the moment that denied them the chance to defend their third successive Premiership title, adding:
“I want to thank all the players, like every club we have stuff to contend with during the year be it injuries or whatever it is but I think we can hold our heads up high after a season to be proud of.
“If Henry Slade had put that kick anywhere else then I’d be stood here talking about one of the great wins and great fights from a team who were a little bit tired, we can be unbelievably proud of the qualities we showed in that second half.”