Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

McCall hails 'complete performance'

Mark McCall was full of praise for his Saracens side

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was delighted with the way the Aviva Premiership leaders put last weekend's mauling by title rivals Northampton behind them as they overcame Newcastle Falcons 40-3 at Allianz Park.

Former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson marked his first appearance of the season with an 18-point haul in a victory that saw Saracens move two points clear of nearest rivals Northampton at the top of the table.

Veteran Hodgson was back in action after an Achilles injury and scored the opening try, two conversions and three penalties as Sarries bounced back from the 17-16 Heineken Cup defeat to Toulouse and last weekend's 41-20 Premiership hammering at Northampton.

Left-wing David Strettle, hooker Jamie George and full-back Alex Goode scored second-half tries to secure a bonus-point win for the leaders before Goode converted Strettle's second try three minutes from time.

"It was the complete performance today," said director of rugby McCall.

"We had to build some foundations in the first 20 minutes into a very strong wind but overall we are very pleased.

"A lot of things which weren't very good last week were very good today. Our set piece was outstanding, our scrum was good and to keep them try-less was important as our defence last weekend wasn't great."

Of Hodgson who was so influential on his return, McCall said: "He looked like he'd never been away.

"He hadn't played for two and a half months and to play that well was fantastic and showed what a class player he is."

But McCall was also heartened by the performances of the younger members of his pack, including try-scoring man-of-the-match hooker George, as Saracens increased their lead over Northampton by a point with their bonus-point win.

"There was a lot of energy from Will Fraser, Jackson Wray, George Kruis, Jimmy George - that younger brigade - while full-back Alex Goode was very involved and looked good too.

"Across the board we are very pleased because this is the end of a block of nine games (before the LV= Cup) and we have 28 points in the Premiership," he added.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards was disappointed to see his side go in 10-3 down at half-time after their promising start.

Richards said their were "a huge amount of positives" but admitted: "The second half will take a little bit of looking at.

"For 40 minutes they had one chance and scored and I thought we were in with a shout.

"We'd had a few more chances than them but you have to take your chances.

"If we had been more clinical we might have been points up rather than conceding a soft try but it's games like today that you learn from.

"Some of our boys fronted up very well but you have to keep your patience for 80 minutes and we lost that."

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