Challenge Cup: Mark McCall hails Saracens’ improvement in win over Gloucester

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall hailed his side’s improved showing as they thrashed Gloucester at Kingsholm on Friday courtesy of a 44-15 triumph in their Challenge Cup quarter-final.

After last season’s enforced absence in European competition, the north London-based team are determined to win some silverware and are set to meet the winners of the Toulon v London Irish play-off in the semi-finals.

Dominant display

As the scoreline suggests, Saracens dominated for long periods in their quarter-final and they eventually outscored their hosts by five tries to two with Aled Davies, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Duncan Taylor and Nick Tompkins crossing the whitewash. Sarries’ other points came via the boot of Owen Farrell, who kicked five conversions and three penalties.

For the Cherry and Whites, Jack Singleton and Louis Rees-Zammit scored tries with Billy Twelvetrees adding a conversion and Adam Hastings succeeded with a penalty.

“This was a big step forward from where we have been,” said McCall. “The atmosphere was terrific and vastly different from the game at Worcester last week.

“Most of the areas of our game were really strong and we generally capitalised when we set up opportunities.

“Inevitably good players relish big knockout games. Billy Vunipola had an incredible first 15-20 minutes as his ball-carrying was a different level.

“Big Maro (Itoje) was back to near his best and Owen Farrell led the team magnificently.

“The next two weeks are a crucial part of a season. We have a tough semi-final in Europe followed by a home game with Northampton, which we need to win to ensure a home semi-final in the play-offs.”

Meanwhile, Gloucester battled to hit their straps and yellow cards to Ollie Thorley and Val Rapava Ruskin did not help their cause and most of the tight decisions went against them.

They will now concentrate on reaching the Premiership play-offs but face two difficult fixtures in that competition against defending champions Harlequins at Twickenham on May 21 and against Sarries at Kingsholm on June 4.

Regarding their Challenge Cup exit, Gloucester head coach George Skivington said: “The boys learnt some massive lessons out there tonight, but Saracens have done this 50 times or more before, so it was no surprise.

“There was lots of good stuff from us in terms of effort, but our ill-discipline was the key issue.

“We gave away too many simple penalties, especially early in the second half, which made it too easy for them.

“Our line-out was also a problem as they rattled us and got in our faces.”

READ MORE: Challenge Cup: Dominant Saracens seal semi-final place after thrashing Gloucester

The article Challenge Cup: Mark McCall hails Saracens’ improvement in win over Gloucester appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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