Premiership: Mark McCall hails Saracens’ resilience after semi-final win over Harlequins

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall believes his team’s resilience played a crucial part in helping them to clinch a 34-17 victory over Harlequins in their Premiership semi-final at StoneX Stadium on Saturday.

Although the experienced trio of Elliot Daly, Billy Vunipola and Alex Lozowski all received yellow cards, Saracens kept their composure and secured a deserved win over the tournament’s defending champions.

Tigers challenge in the final

Sarries will now take on Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final at Twickenham in their first season back in England’s top flight after they were relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season for repeated salary cap breaches.

“It’s been a tough two and half years and it was a problem of our own making,” said McCall.

“Mistakes were made, but 99 per cent of the people in the organisation weren’t responsible for what happened and that’s never talked about.

“Every one of them, staff and players, had a reason to leave and an excuse to go if they wanted, but none of them did. That level of loyalty probably saved the club to be honest.

“We saw out on the field against Harlequins where that loyalty comes from, that togetherness that exists. This is a special group of players and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Newly crowned Premiership player of the season Ben Earl led the way with a hat-trick of tries for Saracens while Nick Tompkins and Aled Davies also crossed the whitewash and Owen Farrell succeeded with three conversions and a penalty.

“We played some good rugby and defended well when we had to. We spent the last 20 minutes with either 14 men or 13 men,” added McCall.

“To be down a man against an attack as good as Quins for that length of time is tough and showed the level of resolve, resilience and fight we have. We scrapped for everything and that’s the thing that always pleases us the most.”

Harlequins were fastest out of the blocks and held a 12-3 lead by the 20th minute and did most of the attacking during the final quarter – after Saracens took control of proceedings – but they couldn’t haul in their hosts.

“Clearly we’re really gutted. We came in with high hopes and expectations of delivering a performance and getting to a final but clearly the scoreboard said no,” said head coach Tabai Matson.

“There were missed opportunities but I don’t want to bore you with them, I’d rather tip my hat to a very good team. We threw the kitchen sink at them and when they had 14 and 13 men they were courageous in their defence.

“We probably didn’t nail our stuff but you have to give them credit for delivering on the big occasion. When we reflect on this it’s going to be really key learnings when we sit on our beach towels with pebbles underneath it’s an opportunity missed.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Saracens oust defending champions Harlequins in feisty semi-final

The article Premiership: Mark McCall hails Saracens’ resilience after semi-final win over Harlequins appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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