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Mark McCall dismayed by Saracens' failure to secure bonus point

Mark McCall lamented Saracens' final-quarter slump that meant they failed to secure the bonus point in Saturday's 24-10 Aviva Premiership victory over Leicester.

The champions led 17-3 at half-time and then added a third try through Billy Vunipola in the 44th minute, but they then stepped off the gas and the balance of power shifted from the moment Mako Vunipola was sin-binned for felling Freddie Burns with his shoulder.

Replacement George Catchpole crossed for Leicester and Saracens spent the remainder of the game defending, although the result was already beyond doubt.

"It was massively frustrating the bonus points didn't come," director of rugby McCall said.

"In the first half we showed some really good signs about how good we can be and the standards we want to achieve.

"We attacked really well. We made a couple of errors along the way, but they were forced by Leicester's defence.

"The half-time score of 17-3 was about right, but when we got to 24-3 we were really sloppy. We had the ball for 15 minutes but did our own thing when the job wasn't done.

"It's a big lesson for us because we didn't get the job done that we wanted to. We spent the last 15-20 minutes defending which is not what we wanted to do.

"We should have got five points and it's frustrating that we didn't."

Saracens started flanker Michael Rhodes in the second row as they come to terms with a devastating succession of injuries in the position and the South African responded with a man of the match performance.

England pair Maro Itoje and George Kruis have been ruled out for at least four weeks through injury, while Alistair Hargreaves has been forced to retire due to concussion.

A move for Eben Etzebeth came to nothing, but Saracens are in talks with giant Australia lock Will Skelton.

"Michael Rhodes did a great job for us at the scrum and was effective around the park," McCall said.

"He was happy to help the team by playing in the second row, he understands the situation we're in.

"Will Skelton is one of the few people we've looked at. He was named in the Wallabies' touring party last week. We're still looking.

"We've got some young fellas here, so I don't want to bring somebody ordinary in.

"We want someone who will add some value over three months and if they can't we won't bring them in."

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill was satisfied by the Tigers' rally but knew they were well beaten.

"I'm pleased we stayed in the battle and were playing for the bonus point in the end, but the first half was difficult for us and they controlled the game well," Cockerill said.

"At 24-3 down we had nothing else but to throw the kitchen sink at them. We did that and stopped them getting their bonus point.

"We can build on that spirit and effort, but it was still disappointing."


From Belfast Telegraph