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McCall: Wasps made it tough for us

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall admitted his side were not at their best but felt it was "job done" after seeing the Aviva Premiership leaders make it five wins from five with a 19-12 home victory over Wasps.

Saracens maintained their 100 per cent start to the season but combative Wasps, who ended their run of 11 successive defeats with a win over bottom-of-the-table Worcester last weekend, made them battle all the way.

McCall conceded his side "didn't play brilliantly today" but was quick to praise their London rivals for making life tough for them.

"Sometimes you have to dig in," he said. "Everybody wants to see lots of tries but Wasps did a tremendous job today.

"They were good defensively, they get numbers in at the breakdown, they go for the ball hard and it was a terrific workout for us ahead of the Heineken Cup next week.

"We rolled up our sleeves and won comfortably in the end, it's job done."

McCall, who made 11 changes to the side that started the win over Harlequins a week earlier, defended his rotation policy, despite feeling the need to introduce England fly-half Owen Farrell off the bench at half-time.

Farrell played a big part in putting Saracens in control, converting a try from flanker Will Fraser - back after a five-month absence with a shoulder injury - and landing three penalties.

That added to the penalty from Alex Goode, switched from full-back to fly-half, which had given Sarries a 3-0 half-time lead.

McCall, who was delighted with Fraser's try-scoring return, said: "It was almost unfair of us to ask Alex, who has been outstanding at 15, to step in at 10 and he did a good job, but we just felt at half-time the game wasn't going quite the way we wanted and it would bring a bit of organisation with Owen going there and Alex moving back to 15.

"Ben Ransom had a great game at full-back and I felt sorry for him having to come off at half- time."

But McCall defended his decision to make the change in the first place.

"Owen wants to play every game but he's very sensible," he said.

"He's just back from the Lions tour and we wouldn't have played him every game had Charlie Hodgson (Achilles injury) been fit because England want us to look after Owen long-term and that's very important."

Wasps claimed a losing bonus point for their efforts, thanks to two second-half tries from skipper Chris Bell and a high-pressure last-kick conversion from replacement fly-half Andy Goode, and director of rugby Dai Young said: "We deserved to get something out of it."

Young also praised his side for their "courage, heart and commitment," but complained that they gave the ball away too often.

"Our accuracy with the ball wasn't good enough and we'll have to work hard at that because we are not giving ourselves enough of a chance to put teams under pressure," he added.


From Belfast Telegraph