McCall hails Saracens' spirit in come-from-behind success against Harlequins

PUBLISHED: 18:37 23 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:37 23 March 2019

Saracens Nick Isiekwe collects line out ball during the Gallagher Premiership match at The London Stadium, London. Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PA

Saracens Nick Isiekwe collects line out ball during the Gallagher Premiership match at The London Stadium, London. Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Mark McCall hailed Saracens’ second-half improvements in their 27-20 win at home to Harlequins in the Gallagher Premiership.

Despite two penalties from Alex Lozowski, an error-strewn display from the north Londoners in the first half saw them trail 17-6 at the break.

Sarries responsed in style in the second half, with Will Skelton crossing twice and Schalk Burger also dotting down as the home team came from behind to triumph.

The north Londoners had looked out of the contest after the first half, but director of rugby McCall revealed his team remained level-headed at the interval.

“The players were superb at half-time. They were calm and clear, knowing what they needed to do better,” he said.

“The first 20 minutes were a case of simple individual errors, the kind of thing that doesn’t really bother us.

“What did bother us was that we lost a bit of energy because of those errors and we gave Harlequins a foothold in the game.

“It was a big curveball just before half-time when they scored that try to go 17-6 up, but the reaction from the team in the second half was fantastic.

“It wasn’t just that curveball as we had a couple of disallowed tries too.

“We could have felt sorry for ourselves, but we didn’t and we were the kind of team we want to be in the second half.”

Saracens certainly had reason to be bemused by some of the decisions made by referee JP Doyle.

At the end of the first half, Lozowski kicked for touch as the clock went red, but Doyle awarded Quins a lineout from which Danny Care scored as the visitors moved 11 points clear.

Early in the second half, Billy Vunipola thought he had crossed for the hosts, but the try was ruled out after Doyle ruled himself to have interfered with play.

Sarries back Liam Williams and Danny Care of Harlequins were then sent to the sin-bin in the second half for an off-the-ball altercation, which led to a David Strettle score for the hosts being ruled out, despite McCall’s men being awarded a penalty.

It was an interesting afternoon for the man in the middle, but McCall that makes his team’s spirited comeback all the more impressive.

“I don’t know about their try before half-time, but I thought Billy’s try was a try as JP doesn’t obstruct or interfere at all,” he added.

“I don’t know why Strettle’s try was disallowed and we got a penalty as a result of it.

“In some respects it doesn’t matter as what was good about the team was that we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves and I was pleased with the reaction and how we played in the second half.”

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