Feb 21, 2016
Saracens battle past Gloucester - Match Reaction
“Probably the win of the season." That was director of rugby Mark McCall's post-match verdict after witnessing his Saracens side battle with a man down to beat Gloucester Rugby 25-12 at Allianz Park.
With a number of Saracen players impressing, here we take a look at the best of the match reaction from Saturday’s round 13 Aviva Premiership win.
Man of the Match, Will Fraser praised Saracens togetherness in the face adversity after hooker Schalk Brits early in the first half. The flanker who received a standing ovation for his display when he was replaced by Jacques Burger after 78 minutes, also revealed how the team rallied around Brits at half-time in the changing room.
Fraser said: “Today was about putting a marker down about what we're about. There was a huge shift in focus this week and we're really pleased.
"I guess that kind of performance was what we are about at this club. When things go wrong we just bind together to get through it. We really dug deep to get the job done.
"I guess it was another strange day at Allianz Park! In a weird way, losing Brad to a yellow and then Schalk to a red made us a little bit tighter.
"Schalk didn't need to apologise to us at all for what happened. In fact, at half-time all the lads went up to him to put a hand on his shoulder and say, 'look it's no big deal what's done is done.
"We're not going to single anyone out because they got sent off. We ended up winning and the boys put in one hell of a shift for him.
"It was merely a reaction to what was happening to him at the time. He was in a very awkward position at the time and these things happen when you are concerned for your own safety.
"It was the perfect way to respond to the Wasps defeat. We had to put in a performance because last Sunday was one of the darkest days of all our careers."
Hayden Smith was superb for Saracens at lock-forward throughout an attritional 80 minutes.
“It’s a funny feeling when you get a red card so early in the first half, we knew that we would be up against it," said the USA Eagle international. "But I thought the guys rallied around each other really well.
"We went back to basics, as we tried to squeeze them and chip away at the scoreboard. It’s phenomenal feeling to have come away with the win. Last weekend’s result (home defeat to Wasps) was a thunderbolt, we weren’t expecting it and we were really off that day and we’re happy to hold our hands up to that.
"I think though if you look at our results and our form over the last five or six year’s defeats like that are completely uncommon, and we knew that so we just went back to what we do well. We were very focussed to getting back to our style of play and fortunately we were able to do that today.”
Number Eight Jackson Wray was another player who was pacing the local maternity wards this week, with his wife Leanne giving birth to their second child on Friday afternoon. 24 hours later, Wray was part of bruising forward pack display at Allianz Park.
Speaking after the game, Wray said: “On a personal level, it’s been a mad week. To come out here and have things go against us like they did –the way we kept on going, we kept on coming together, the tighter and tighter we got. That’s a game that could have easily gotten away from us. That just shows the fight we had after last week and that’s exactly what we’re about.
We were down in the dumps in parts of that game and we kept on fighting against the wind in the second half. To come out and win that game is unbelievable.”
Replacement hooker Jared Saunders, performance was described by Mark McCall as a ‘coming of age’ for the young South African front-rower after entering the fray in somewhat tumultuous circumstances.
Saunders said: “We had a lot of work to do and I think Mark (McCall) said it right in the build-up to today, you can’t look at all the bad things you did you’ve got to put a performance in and come here and win. I’m pleased with everyone, everyone’s helped me so much. It’s great to be out there, I feel really privileged to represent the club.”