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McCall reveals clear-the-air talks

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall revealed that he had held a clear-the-air meeting with his squad in the build-up to the 18-16 away victory over Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins.

England fly-half Owen Farrell kicked the winning penalty six minutes from time as Saracens consigned Harlequins to their first defeat in five Aviva Premiership matches this season.

McCall, whose side were without a win from their previous two matches, said: "It's a big relief. In the last couple of weeks we have lost ourselves a bit."

He added: "We talked about ourselves and and what we're about as a club but we've found ourselves."

Farrell scored all 18 points for the visitors, with six penalties, in a hard-fought encounter at the Twickenham Stoop. He was back to his goalkicking best after recent sub-standard performances came under scrutiny, but McCall insisted he never had any worries about his young marksman.

He told the post-match press conference: "Owen came into this match under a little bit of pressure from you guys but he's an international player so there were no worries there."

McCall expressed concern that referee Andrew Small did not refer the only try of the match, scored by Quins scrum-half Danny Care, to the television match official.

He said: "I didn't get a great view but it looked like there had been a knock-on. He does have the facility to go upstairs but he didn't."

Meanwhile, Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea refused to blame misfiring goalkicker Nick Evans for his side's defeat. The former New Zealand fly-half missed four penalties, including three fairly straightforward second-half shots, any one of which could have extended Quins' 100 per cent start to the season.

"We gave them six penalties and they kicked six penalties. We weren't up to the levels we want to be," O'Shea said. "It became the game they wanted in terms of flow but that's a credit to them."


From Belfast Telegraph