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McCall delighted with play-off spot

Published 16/05/2015

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was understandably delighted to see his side claim a play-off berth
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was understandably delighted to see his side claim a play-off berth

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was thrilled to end a "stressful" day with an Aviva Premiership play-off place after seeing his side hand out a 10-try demolition of London Welsh.

Chris Ashton crossed for four of the tries with David Strettle, Alex Goode, Juan Figallo, Charlie Hodgson and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, also on the scoresheet as Saracens ran out 68-17 victors at Kassam Stadium.

That win saw Saracens narrowly pip Exeter for the final Premiership play-off spot, and left McCall a relieved man.

He said: "It was a stressful day; I have never been in this position before with so many imponderables. We scored four tries in the first half but we were pretty average so we had a big job to do in the second half."

"We were keeping in touch in what was happening at Exeter and ultimately I'm thrilled to be in the play-offs."

Welsh were consigned to a 22nd defeat in as many games this season, but it was not as comfortable as McCall would have liked against the league's bottom side as his team were only 26-17 ahead at the break.

"We knew London Welsh would be a different animal than the side we played early in the season as they have been far more competitive in the last few weeks," said McCall, whose team now face a difficult away task at table toppers Northampton in next week's play-off semi-final.

"It's our sixth consecutive Premiership play-off so we are pleased to be so consistent. Northampton have had a great year and been leaders from the start but the pressure is off as we've got nothing to lose now," he added.

Nick Reynolds and Chris Elder scored the tries for Welsh with Elder adding the rest of the points from two conversions and a penalty.

It was a spirited first-half performance from Welsh but they had no answer in the final quarter to Saracens' pace and power, leaving the hosts unable to add to their season's tally of only one league point.

Despite the heavy defeat, Welsh head coach Rowland Phillips was still upbeat for the future.

He said: "There's a lot of stuff to build on as the majority of our players on show today will be available next season. For all the players involved, it's been a very tough Premiership season but it will serve them well for the future of this club.

"We competed well in the first half and we had a lot more to offer in attack. The second half was a different story as they were able to bring on a top quality bench, which enabled them to up their game."

It was Welsh captain Tom May's 247th and final Premiership game before retiring, and Phillips applauded his efforts.

"He's a model professional a bit like Duncan Jones of the Ospreys. It would have been nice to have given him a memorable final season but to put his body on the line for such a long period is remarkable," said Phillips.

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