Mark McCall urges Saracens to use Premiership final defeat ‘to come back stronger’

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall has encouraged his team to use the pain they will experience after losing the Premiership final to fuel them next season.

Saracens lost 15-12 to Leicester at Twickenham as Freddie Burns’ last-gasp drop goal snatched a first title since 2013 for the Tigers.

McCall had no complaints about the result, nor his team’s decision to accept three points when they won a penalty under the posts in the final five minutes.

That took the scoreboard level, but with Leicester down to 14 men after Matt Scott’s yellow card, Saracens might have been more ambitious and searched for a seven-point score. McCall felt they were “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” in that situation.

"Congratulations to Leicester Tigers, they have had a phenomenal season, have been at the top of the league all year, and were the better team today and deserved to win the match,” sad McCall.

“Everyone knows they have got a phenomenally strong kicking game and they tend to dominate territory and they did again today.

“They trapped us in our half for long periods and backed that up with brilliant defensive work and on the odd occasion when we got into their half their defence was on point and a bit too good for us. It was very frustrating but a lot of that was their making. We were a bit suffocated today.”

Asked if there were positives for Saracens to take, McCall said: “Of course there is. The potential and the growth in our squad is massive. We didn’t get anywhere near our best today, I don’t think.

“Today doesn’t really feel like the end of anything. I feel like this new group of players is at the start of something. Hopefully we can use the pain of these next few days in a constructive way next year to come back stronger.”

McCall praised Billy Vunipola, his No8, who put in an all-action performance.

“He was one of the shining lights. In terms of his work under the high ball and in the backfield,” he said. “There was also the odd moment when he’d get away and put us on the front foot, we didn’t get on the front foot all day, and never had any control of the match, despite Billy’s best efforts.”

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