Mark McCall delighted with victory over Clermont Auvergne
Saracens director of rugby delighted as his side show resilience to defeat French side 30-23 in European Rugby Champions Cup
Mark McCall praised his players as they came from behind to defeat Clermont Auvergne 30-23 in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
The Saracens director of rugby saw wingers Chris Ashton and Dave Strettle both score braces at Allianz Park, but was most pleased with his team’s resilience to take a bonus-point win in the opening round of Pool 1 against the team they defeated 46-6 in the Heineken Cup semi-finals in April.
“I think we said it wasn’t going to the same game [as six months ago],” McCall said.
“Clermont are a high-class team, and we had to be good ourselves to win the game today. What pleases me most is how resilient we were. We showed a lot of resolve throughout the game after a few set-backs.”
Despite the victory, Saracens also lost tireless flanker Schalk Brits to a serious knee injury in the second half, but welcomed back England outside-half Owen Farrell in the closing stages after Charlie Hodgson had marshalled the Londoners to a lead.
“We’re chuffed to have done that, and we’re chuffed to have got the win and five points,” McCall added.
“They came with a clever kicking strategy and they possess some wonderful aerial player such as Zac Guildford, who got a try out of absolutely nothing, but we responded immediately after that try in about 90 seconds, and that’s the kind of response we’ve come to expect from this group.”
Saracens comeback wasn’t as dramatic as Munster’s last-minute drop-goal winner to earn a 27-26 win at Sale Sharks in the pool’s other match on Saturday, but McCall expressed his delight at the manner in which his team coped with their French opponents.
“I’m delighted with the energy and intensity we showed,” he said. “They were the best team we’ve played this season, and the best team we’ve prepared for – I’m delighted with the result.”