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Saracens chief Mark McCall backs inspirational Maro Itoje to earn England chance

Published 30/01/2016

Maro Itoje was in inspirational form for Saracens against Bath
Maro Itoje was in inspirational form for Saracens against Bath

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall believes Maro Itoje will knock the England door down before long after his side staged a stunning comeback to win 19-13 at Allianz Park.

McCall's men were 13-0 down at half-time but went on to score 19 unanswered points despite fierce Bath resistance for much of the match.

And though 21-year-old Itoje did not touch down himself, his fierce carry ultimately led to Schalk Brits' try 10 minutes before full-time.

Charlie Hodgson, who collected 14 points from the tee, then knocked over the penalty that put Saracens in front for the first time after Itoje won a penalty at the breakdown.

It was a resounding statement from the lock after England coach Eddie Jones decided to release him back to Saracens ahead of the Six Nations.

But McCall, who also reserved special praise for England outsider Brad Barritt, said: "If Maro keeps on playing like that, I'm sure he'll get an opportunity. I thought he was really good in the second half, every carry made a difference.

"We were very composed at half time, Brad Barritt led the team magnificently. We didn't think we played too badly in the first half. We just needed to pressurise them, use the wind and improve our set-piece.

"Once we got in front I thought we were magnificent, we had 15 minutes of almost perfect rugby."

Bath had hammered Saracens in the set-piece for much of the match, but the introduction of USA prop Titi Lamositele just before the hour mark helped turn the tide.

"One of the turning points was when we brought Titi on," he added. "Titi is 21 years old and plays tighthead for the USA, he comes on at loosehead and changes the game."

Bath now go back to the drawing board after their sixth defeat in nine Aviva Premiership games.

And though head coach Mike Ford is not giving up hope that Bath can wade into the play-offs race, he was left frustrated by referee Dean Richards.

"I'm proud of the first half, proud of the performance, the boys got stuck in," he said. "There's 13 league games left for us, there's another two before we reach half-way. We have to accumulate to get to the top four and we're going to go for it.

"Saracens conceded six penalties from mauls and didn't get anyone in the sin bin, not even a talking to.

"(Richard) Wigglesworth kicks it dead from the halfway line, it's our scrum feed and the referee rules that it's us to be penalised on our own ball and we're under pressure again. It's small margins and you need that rub of the green with the referee."

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