”International windows are always challenging for us” – Mark McCall

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EXETER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 22: Saracens' Head Coach Mark McCall during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Saracens at Sandy Park on December 22, 2018 in Exeter, United Kingdom. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Following Saracens defeat away to Gloucester, Mark McCall reflected on what seemed like a brilliant losing bonus point – considering where his team were at with 10 minutes to go at Kingsholm.

Robert Rees has the latest reaction from the head coach as he hails the International fixtures period as a ”Challenging” time for Saracens.

Slow start hurt Sarries

It took Saracens an hour before they started playing anywhere near the level can. Finding themselves down by 20 with around five minutes to go before a late burst saw them clinch a losing bonus point.

Mark McCall was disappointed in his sides slow start saying, ”It was an under par first half for us and we were second best in most areas and lost a lot of collisions in that first half. We are encouraged by the unity and fight we showed in the last half an hour.

“It was a period where we could have given up but to come away with a losing bonus point considering where we were is really good.”

”International windows are always challenging for us” says McCall

Missing a handful of players McCall’s side went into this match as a changed side. Compared to Gloucester who have been a wholly unchanged group. ”We’re realistic. These international windows are always challenging for us and it doesn’t get any more challenging than coming to Gloucester when they have no one away and they’ve got their injuries cleared up.

”We’ve played four games in this international period and taken 15 points which is an incredible effort from the team.”

”We’ve got two games to go and we’re going to try and accumulate as many points as we can. We know who’s going to be missing and we won both games in the autumn and won last weekend, taking six points from this window so far. We’ve got two tough games against Northampton and Bath but, we’re in a good position with 53 points.

“If we can get another win out of these two games it’ll be an added bonus for us”, he concluded.

Poor set piece cost Saracens

Losing four of their lineouts and causing little disruption to the hosts’ set piece McCall’s team found themselves battling for a platform.

”It’s hard to get a foothold in the game when those foundations aren’t working. Some of the big things weren’t good today and there were also some little things. We were outworked in the kicking game at times and lost a lot of collisions. We were much better in the second half and fought very hard and that’s something we can bring into the next two games.”

On Alex Goode at fly half

Alex Goode has been covering fly half; with Owen Farrell on England duty, and speaking on his role in the team McCall said;

”He’s a class footballer and rugby player. He’s done a class job for us whether it be at fly half or full back.”

Mark McCall will now want others to step-up in the same manner. In Round 15 of the Gallagher Premiership, his Saturday March 2 fixture clashes with the Guinness Six Nations. Learning to adapt, and motivating his side will be a test for the Saracens players during the International window.

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Saracens v Northampton Saints – Sat Feb 2, Allianz Stadium.

 

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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