Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Mark McCall pleasantly surprised by Saracens' season-opening rout of Sale

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was taken aback by the margin of victory as his side opened their Aviva Premiership title defence with an emphatic 41-3 triumph over Sale at Allianz Park on Saturday.

The champions scored five tries through Mike Ellery (two), Michael Rhodes, Will Fraser and Tim Streather, with Charlie Hodgson's immaculate kicking being rewarded with two penalties and five conversions. Alex Goode added one conversion following Hodgson's departure.

"It wasn't the score I was expecting," McCall said. "We have been pretty poor in our pre-season matches, but today we showed the better side of our game.

" We played very well with our game being based on a solid foundation. Our set-piece was of a very high level and defensively we were really good."

Sale managed just a solitary penalty from Danny Cipriani in response, and boss Steve Diamond accepted his team had been comprehensively beaten.

"We have had a nice summer, but it was a reality check and we didn't deliver," he said.

"We were never going to recover after the first 25 minutes as we made error after error, so it will be back to the drawing board.

"It was one of those days. We got drilled at the scrums and couldn't get any momentum or ball, but we did improve a bit in the second half."

Next up for Sale is a home match against newly promoted Worcester - who kicked off their campaign with a stunning 13-12 win over Northampton - on Friday night.

"It will be a massive test for us as Worcester showed (on Friday) night what you can do if you show up with desire and enthusiasm," Diamond said. "We didn't show any of that today and got what we deserved."

Saracens are also in action on Friday night, when they visit Gloucester.

"Gloucester are a vastly improved team and will have (England duo) Jonny May and Ben Morgan back in their line-up," McCall added. "I have been impressed with their pre-season and it will be a very tough task at Kingsholm."


From Belfast Telegraph