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McCall feels for struggling Wasps on eve of Ulster trip

Saracens 38 Wasps 19

By Jonathan Bradley

After watching his side beat Wasps to return to the top of the Aviva Premiership, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall expressed sympathy for the Coventry outfit as they prepare to visit his old stomping ground.

Dai Young's squad, who are already struggling with a huge injury list, will have just a five-day turnaround between yesterday's defeat at Allianz Park and Friday's trip to Kingspan Stadium for a meeting with Ulster to kick off this season's Champions Cup.

And McCall, the injured Ulster captain when the province won the European Cup in 1999 and now a two-time champion with Saracens, described the situation as "grossly unfair".

Now in the bottom three domestically after their fourth straight loss, Young was equally unimpressed by the fixture scheduling.

"When your luck's down, everyone keeps running over to kick you," he said.

"If it was any less of a turnaround, we'd have to go straight to Ulster from here. It's not ideal, but we have to get on with it.

"Whoever puts the jersey on has to do the job. We're missing 15 players to injury, but we just have to deal with it and not use it as an excuse. We have to get the best out of what we've got but we're not doing that."

Young, who coached Cardiff for eight years before moving across the River Severn, has plenty of experience in bringing sides to Belfast and, despite the challenge or rallying weary troops, is looking forward to the challenge.

"I've got a long history personally of going back and forth there, obviously in my Celtic League days coaching Cardiff, so it's a great venue to play rugby," he said.

"It's a fantastic stadium, always ram-packed and the supporters really get behind the team.

"There's fantastic support there, a really great atmosphere, and obviously they're a quality team as well. So you're going to have to be at your best to go there and get the result."

Despite scoring three tries, his men were decidedly second best yesterday, though.

Saracens had galloped out of sight with half an hour remaining, George's trio of tries including one that saw him bullock over adding to Chris Wyles' opener to deliver the bonus point and a record win in the fixture.

That they climbed above overnight leaders Exeter was as much a story of Wasps' shortcomings as Saracens' excellence.

Even allowing for injuries that robbed them of Danny Cipriani and Jimmy Gopperth at fly-half - forcing full-back Rob Miller to deputise as conductor - and number eight Nathan Hughes, it was a poor performance.

Apart from Thomas Young, who provided manful resistance, few of last season's Premiership runners up acquitted themselves well as the club slumped to a fourth successive defeat for the first time since 2014 to remain a lowly 10th in the table.

Saracens themselves have until Sunday before they play Northampton.

Hat-trick scorer George, a Test British and Irish Lion during the summer, will lock horns with England captain Hartley in the Pool Two clash at Franklin's Gardens that will see the rivals compete to impress Eddie Jones ahead of next month's autumn series.

"Jamie did well in the tight, but he was also good around the park by making lots of little half breaks," McCall said. "He showed a lot of attacking ability during the game and I'm really pleased to see him play so well.

"Playing well here was going to be important for him and playing well in the next couple of weeks is going to be important for him as well to get himself into Eddie Jones' mind.

"We're going up to Northampton on Sunday and Dylan Hartley will be starting so it will be an important game for Jamie."

Belfast Telegraph


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