Premiership: Saracens boss Mark McCall admits Leicester Tigers ‘suffocated’ his side in final

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Mark McCall was faced with a gutting loss to Leicester Tigers after nearly executing a miracle: a Premiership trophy in Saracens’ first season after promotion.

Unfortunately for the Men in Black, it wasn’t to be as Steve Borthwick’s side imposed themselves and their game plan on Sarries throughout the Twickenham clash.

The Tigers’ kicking game was invaluable territorially and McCall was aware of this; Freddie Steward kicked precisely and recovered high-ball after high-ball from Saracens to win the battle for forward progress.

Because of the early victory in terms of territory and defence for Leicester, Saracens were unable to execute their game plan resulting in a gutting Premiership final loss.


“Everyone knows they have got a phenomenally strong kicking game and they tend to dominate territory and they did again today,” said Saracens director of rugby McCall. “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.”

The kicking brilliance from Leicester pinned Saracens back and because of the fantastic kick coverage and kick chase, McCall’s side were forced to take mark after mark to slow the game down and allow players to get back on side to support.

“They played a lot of the game in our half, we got a lot of our possession in our half and they were tough to break down,” admitted McCall.

“It was tough to win a kicking battle against them so fair play, they did it brilliantly today.”

A high hit on Billy Vunipola led to the sin-binning of Matt Scott and, more importantly, a penalty for Saracens in front of the sticks that McCall’s side opted to slot for three to draw the game level at 12-12 in the 75th minute. What followed from Leicester and Freddie Burns is now history.

When asked on the thinking behind that crucial call, McCall reflected: “It is a tough one. You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

“It is tough to know the right call, there were four minutes on the clock, three points is 12 and they were down to 14 as well.

“I don’t think it is the wrong decision at all. 50 per cent of people would make it and 50 per cent wouldn’t, I don’t think that was the game though, they deserved to win.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Leicester Tigers hero Freddie Burns is still in ‘disbelief’

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