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McCall predicts tough run-in for Sarries

Saracens chief Mark McCall has predicted a tough finale to the season if the Aviva Premiership champions are to secure a home semi-final in the play-offs.

Rugby director McCall had seen his side secure a hard-earned 28-19 away win over London Irish but McCall believes much hard work still remains. Saracens face two must-win fixtures - at Newcastle and at home to Exeter - after dropping from second to third in the table as Leicester leapfrogged them with their four-try bonus-point win at Northampton.

McCall said: "Newcastle are fighting for survival so it's going to be tough. They won at Gloucester today and Gary Gold seems to have turned things around. They are two tough games to finish on but ones we will look forward to."

He added: "We went 14-6 down today and you can go two ways. You can feel sorry for yourselves. The last 10 minutes of the first half were vital and we scored six points and clawed back the lead they had.

"Our second-half performance was outstanding. Our pack got on top and controlled the game."

Irish suffered their seventh successive defeat but they did not fall behind until nearly midway through the second half.

Recently appointed director of rugby Brian Smith, who watched Charlie Hodgson deny them even a losing bonus point with his second drop goal in the last minute, said: "Sport can be pretty cruel.

"Charlie dropping that goal at the end and us coming away with nothing is a bit of a knife through the heart.

"But if you look at the positives, they are champions of the Premiership and 75 minutes into the contest we got ourselves into a situation where we could win the game.

"But that's probably been the story of our season. We were a little bit unlucky but they are a good side. They are clinical and they have a fair bit of class in that squad."

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