Nomadic Sarries a 'good side'

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 07:59
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Mark McCall admits his nomadic Saracens side are getting used to life on the road after grinding out a nerve-racking 17-16 Premiership victory over Saints.

Mark McCall admits his nomadic Saracens side are getting used to life on the road after grinding out a nerve-racking 17-16 Premiership victory over Northampton Saints at Stadium:MK.

Playing in their sixth different home of the season, Sarries got off to the perfect start when John Smit drove his way over on seven minutes.

But Saints, smarting from their 18-9 defeat against Harlequins last time out, responded with a Phil Dowson effort and some expert Stephen Myler kicking - the fly-half finishing with 11 points.

England flyhalf Owen Farrell, on as a replacement on 50 minutes, took over kicking duties from Charlie Hodgson and eventually saw the hosts over the line with two penalties - despite Myler hitting the crossbar with a last-gasp, long-range penalty that almost snatched Northampton victory from the jaws of defeat.

But McCall instead celebrated Sarries' sixth win in seven games, and second place in the Premiership going into the New Year.

"It's probably the sign of a good side [not playing well and grinding out a result]," said Sarries' Director of Rugby McCall.

"That's our 16th game [of the season] and we've played three at Vicarage Road, so I'm unbelievably proud of the players, it shows what they're made of, they don't pick and choose what games they get up for, they just bring their boots and get on with the game.

"I thought in the first 25 minutes of the match we were pretty good, we'd built up an 11-0 lead, we were in a good place, but I think we got a little bit excited in the last 15 minutes of the half.

"We put ourselves under a bit of pressure and credit to Northampton for getting back into the game at that point.

"I never felt we were under a huge amount of pressure, however."

The dramatic loss left Saints lingering outside the play-offs and director of rugby Jim Mallinder claims they have to improve their consistency levels.

"It's tough but we've got to get as much consistency as we possibly can. What we'll do is look at our game as well. The referee is one thing, our game is another," said Mallinder.

"I thought the effort from the boys was fantastic. They really, really worked hard there.

"There were a couple of little bits of accuracy, in particular where we had chances to get out of our half, when we went four points up we really had a chance there to clear our lines and we didn't.

"We let them back in the game and that's what we've got to work on.

"I don't think it's anything to do with mentality, it's just being a little bit smart. A lot of credit to Saracens - they don't score many tries but they win games.

"They've got that ability to win games and that's something we still need to work on. If Stephen Myler kicks that goal then we would all be celebrating and it would be a tremendous away victory for us."

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Team P W D L Pts
Northampton Saints 22 16 1 5 76
Bath 22 16 0 6 75
Leicester Tigers 22 15 1 6 68
Saracens 22 14 1 7 68
Exeter Chiefs 22 14 0 8 68
Wasps 22 11 2 9 61
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London Irish 22 7 1 14 40
Newcastle Falcons 22 5 1 16 34
London Welsh 22 0 0 22 1