John Kingston hails replacements after Harlequins beat Saracens
John Kingston acclaimed the reinforcements that enabled Harlequins to overcome a mass of high-profile injuries and post a 17-10 Aviva Premiership victory over Saracens at Twickenham Stoop.
Quins inflicted a first defeat on the double winners for six months despite losing England internationals Jack Clifford, Marland Yarde, Joe Marler and Danny Care either before or during the game.
Clifford is ruled out until December with ankle trouble, Yarde has a throat infection, Marler was knocked out after five seconds and Care limped off with rib trouble just after half-time.
"Joe's a massive personality for us. Mark Lambert has been at the club a long time and he took the role seamlessly so early in the game," Kingston said.
"Karl Dickson came on when Danny had to go off after half-time when we were massively under the pump and playing into the wind. He did a such a wonderful job.
"Charlie Walker didn't get much notice that he was playing after Marland pulled out before the match.
"And then James Chisholm stepped in for Jack Clifford, who had that unfortunate injury.
"The way they all played when there was so much disruption was really positive. You expect your big players to play, but those boys stepped in and a wonderful job.
"It must have been a wonderful game to watch, two sides going at it hammer and tongs.
"I'm just so pleased for the players that they got their rewards and an injection in belief and confidence which was very important for the season ahead."
Saracens trailed 17-0 entering the second half after leaking tries to Tim Visser and Charlie Hopper, but could only muster a touch down from Richard Wigglesworth in response.
"A 17-0 lead is a big lead to take into half-time. It was an uphill battle in the second half," director of rugby Mark McCall said.
"Overall we have to be disappointed with our performance. It was 10-0 but nothing had really happened in the game.
"They then scored again quickly and your mind starts playing tricks on you, you think they're more on top of you than they actually were.
"I don't think they go into our 22 again for the rest of the game and we seemed to spend a lot of time down their end. But Quins played well."
Saracens missed the game management and accuracy from the tee of their England fly-half Owen Farrell, who is out with a hip injury and is also likely to miss Friday's clash with Bristol.
"Owen is getting closer and closer, but with the length of the season it's just madness to make a short term decision that might have long-term implications, so we'll do the right thing," McCall said.
"He did all the training last week, he just didn't feel quite right and we'll wait to he feels completely right in his own head before we play him. He's mad keen to play."