Belfast Telegraph

Sarries didn't see record defeat coming, admits stunned McCall

Saracens 14 Clermont 46

By Brian Hill

Mark McCall admitted Saracens were shocked by their 46-14 collapse to Clermont in a record Champions Cup defeat for the holders.

The heavyweight Pool Two showdown had been delayed by 26 hours due to adverse conditions around Allianz Park and it was the French giants who better adapted to the delay by amassing six tries in a repeat of last season's final.

"We didn't see that coming," said Ulsterman McCall, the club's Director of Rugby. "I know we've lost a few games in a row, but they were relatively tight. We never saw that coming.

"It shows what conceding a couple of early tries can do to your confidence, but we missed so many tackles which is unlike us. Individuals were falling off tackles and Clermont have the individuals to penalise us.

"We felt good as a group before the game, so the postponement wasn't really relevant."

Saracens missed 37 tackles and it was Fijian wing Alivereti Raka who made the most of their generosity, completing his hat-trick inside 25 minutes.

The rivals meet again in France on Sunday with Clermont now occupying first place.

"What we said in the changing room is that by the end of January we hope we can be proud of how we respond to this difficult situation," McCall said.

"Potentially that isn't just about outcomes because we have a difficult game against Clermont away in six days, it's also about staying tight as a group.

"We've got enough good players at the club and people who care about the club enough to respond in the right way."

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