Saracens can get even better, says Mark McCall after battling win at Munster

Paul Rees at the Aviva Stadium
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Owen Farrell, who kicked 16 points against Munster, said Saracens ‘dealt with the occasion’ at the Aviva Stadium.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters</span>
Owen Farrell, who kicked 16 points against Munster, said Saracens ‘dealt with the occasion’ at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Saracens are not looking beyond their next two Premiership matches as they close in on a European and Premiership double for the second consecutive season.

Saracens reached their third European Champions Cup final in four seasons when they overwhelmed Munster at the Aviva Stadium and they have qualified for the Premiership play‑offs while still having to secure home advantage in the semi-final.

“We never talk about the double,” Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, said. “Today was about this match and we have two more games in the Premiership to try and get a home draw. If we lose in the final, then we lose.

“We want to be consistent as a group and front up every week. We’ve got a lot of experience in big games now and that experience really stood us in good stead against Munster. We think we can get better as a side: our age profile is really good and we want this to go on for a while.

“We knew we would have to be patient and persistent against a Munster side that we knew after analysing them would be the hardest-working one we had come up against this season. We had to weather a lot of pressure in the first half and our defence was extraordinary today. We butchered a couple of chances but we showed fight and togetherness on a brilliant occasion.”

Owen Farrell was in the England team who lost against Ireland here last month. “It was a different experience and different teams,” said the outside-half, who kicked 16 points and set up his side’s second try. “We dealt with the occasion and to come under so much pressure in the first half and then hit them the way we did was brilliant.

“We could have been more clinical. We left a couple of tries out there that would have given us more control. The game was tight for a long time and we could have made it more comfortable and we will have to look at that as we look to become better.

“The main thing you hope you have when you play big games like this are the fight and the will you have to go out there and attack them with everything you have got. That was there in spades and the thing about this team is that we have been together a good while now. We have had these experiences before, bad and good, and learned from them.”

Rassie Erasmus, the Munster head coach, said the score reflected the match. “They were 15-20 points better than us and they put us under mental pressure. They squeezed the life out of us, but we will learn from this. I am proud of the players who gave everything but we were beaten by the better team.”

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