Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

McCall defends Farrell performance

Owen Farrell's indifferent kicking display has been defended by Mark McCall

Saracens boss Mark McCall has backed England fly-half Owen Farrell to brush off his Wembley woes after suffering a difficult day at the office against Leicester Tigers.

Farrell looked a shadow of his normally assured self in his first start of the season, missing four of his five penalty attempts before being replaced by Charlei Hodgson, who landed two second-half penalties to earn Sarries a 9-9 draw.

"Owen's not had much practice recently," McCall said. "He's had a small groin injury which has stopped him practising as much as usual and it's very rare he has a day like this."

He added: "He's a magnificent player for us but every man has the odd bad day at the office and I know he has the strength of character to come back.

"He's the sort of player who will use a day like this to bounce back stronger so I'm looking forward to that.

"I think it's definitely a case of two points dropped here as we missed plenty of opportunities.

"We came with the intent to play. If the breakdown isn't policed at all you're going to get a game like that with two teams defending so well."

Toby Flood kicked three penalties for the Tigers and also had a chance to seal the win with a drop goal effort from the last kick of the game, but Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill was not in the mood to point fingers.

"We could have won it at the end, they could have won it at the end and these games tend to be close between the two of us but it wasn't a great spectacle and there were a lot of mistakes from both sides," he said.

"In the first half the lack of them kicking their goals helped us out a little bit but we need to look at our discipline in our own half. But that is two points we didn't have before the game so that's 12 points from three games and it was a tough game away from home so we will take it and move on."

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