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McCall woe after narrow defeat

Mark McCall described Saracens' 17-16 Heineken Cup defeat by Toulouse at Wembley as "unbelievably disappointing".

The Aviva Premiership pacesetters led 16-7 heading into the final quarter but were overpowered by the four-time European champions with France number eight Louis Picamoles driving over for the crucial try.

Owen Farrell fell just short with a late penalty from just inside his own half and then saw a drop-goal attempt deflected wide six minutes into injury time as Toulouse clung on.

"We had a couple of chances in injury time. Owen's penalty was pretty close," director of rugby McCall said.

"I thought there were a couple of penalties in those 22 phases at the end but it didn't appear as though they'd be given.

"It demonstrated the fight and composure of the team that we were able to do that. It's unbelievably disappointing to lose.

"This result puts Toulouse in control of the group to a degree, but we still have a lot to play for.

"We must do the job when we have Zebre back to back in December."

Outside centre Chris Wyles crossed in the ninth minute and Farrell kicked three penalties and a conversion, but it was not enough to stop Saracens from slumping to their first defeat of the season.

"It was a really tight game. We got ourselves into a nine-point lead and in a match as tight as that we should have seen it through," McCall said.

"That five-metre scrum was a horrible way to lose seven points. That said, our effort, energy, physicality and fight were extraordinary at times.

"Toulouse are a very good team and we had to fight really hard in defence. For an hour we controlled them pretty well."

McCall took some comfort in the performances of Farrell and Chris Ashton, who are set to start England's QBE Internationals opener against Australia on November 2.

"Owen was magnificent, unbelievable, the best player on the pitch," McCall said.

"He did every thing and doesn't shoulder any of the blame - he was brilliant.

"Chris had a really strong game as well, but he's been good all season."


From Belfast Telegraph