Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

McCall proud of battling display

Mark McCall

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was proud of his side's performance in their 24-14 Heineken Cup defeat to Clermont Auvergne at Vicarage Road, but believes English clubs are not fighting on a level-footing with their competitors in Europe.

A try from David Strettle and three penalties from Owen Farrell were not enough for Sarries to finish their Pool Two campaign on a high, as Clermont ran in tries from Wesley Fofana, Tasea Lavea, Willie Wepener and Ti'i Paulo to seal a bonus-point win that keeps their quarter-final hopes alive.

"We have a number of injuries at the moment so I was very proud of the performance and particularly the young academy boys who've come through this season," said McCall.

"The situation with the Heineken Cup is a difficult one because the English and French clubs have to compete very strongly to qualify, whereas the eight or nine in the Magners League go straight through.

"It is not a level playing field, particularly when you include the gap that exists between English and French clubs in terms of squad size and you then compare our salary cap with theirs.

"It's very difficult to compete against a team, for example, with Clermont's resources.

"I'd love to have had a full deck available for some of these Heineken Cup games but it hasn't been possible.

"Last weekend against Leinster we were well beaten by a better team, but in the other four defeats we've had chances and we've simply not been as clinical as our opponents in terms of finishing.

"The 10-point margin in this defeat looks like we lost convincingly, but we were actually the better team for periods but their second try before half-time was a killer blow.

"Overall it's been a huge learning experience for a number of our lads, which in itself is very valuable."

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