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McCall welcomes Allianz Park

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall welcomed a successful start to Aviva Premiership life at Allianz Park after Exeter were thrashed 31-11 in a four-try rout.

England prop Mako Vunipola scored two tries to finish as man of the match, while Charlie Hodgson and Matt Stevens also touched down in only the club's second try-scoring bonus-point win in 15 matches this season.

It was a vote of confidence for the artificial pitch designed specifically for rugby union and McCall was delighted with the occasion at Saracens' new £24million ground in Barnet, saying: "It's great to start like that, scoring four tries."

He added: "It was a great atmosphere. We've all been to Vicarage Road over the last couple of years and it wasn't like that.

"There was a real atmosphere during the warm up and the crowd really got behind the team.

"It was a quick game and our players enjoyed it. They were saying in the changing room afterwards that they really enjoyed the experience. The pitch feels good and I don't think there was anything to be negative about. We didn't have reset scrums.

"It seemed to be a faster game with more ball in hand than previously, so there's a lot to be positive about."

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter had no immediate complaints with the surface, but was more scathing of his team's performance.

"We got taught a few lessons in a few areas, which isn't normally an issue for us," Baxter said. "Saracens' physicality at the breakdown, line speed and nous at controlling territory was better.

"When you play against Saracens those things exacerbate very quickly. You don't tend to get away with anything other than a very high level performance against them."


From Belfast Telegraph