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Saracens boss Mark McCall salutes Brad Barritt as champions fend off Gloucester

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall singled out the efforts of man of the match Brad Barritt as the captain helped his side grind out a home win over Gloucester.

The hosts were on the back foot inside the first minute when Ben Morgan crossed for Gloucester but Barritt replied with his first try for two-and-a-half years.

Gloucester's Billy Burns and Saracens' Mike Ellery then traded tries, with the visitors leading 17-15 at half-time, before three second-half penalties from Alex Lozowski settled matters for the home side in a 24-20 win.

The result means Saracens have now not lost at home for nine months, although McCall admitted they had been made to work hard to keep that record intact.

"It was a really tough, close game which could have gone either way," he said.

"I guess at this time of year, these kind of games, it's just about getting the result and we were fortunate enough to get that result.

"We weren't perfect, far from it, but I do think we showed resilience at crucial times and bounced back from a few pretty poor scores and then we just did enough in the second half to eke over the line.

"We defended well the whole game but that first 60 seconds of defence was pretty awful.

"I thought Brad Barritt was a clear man of the match. Some of his tackling was out of this world.

"The players have said that's the toughest Gloucester side they've played against."

Gloucester went into the game with confidence building having ended their four-game winless streak in the Aviva Premiership last time out against Wasps.

Their director of rugby David Humphreys was left to reflect on what might have been after running the reigning champions close.

"It was an unbelievable effort but we're very disappointed," Humphreys said.

"We gave ourselves a very good opportunity to win the game. We had three try-scoring opportunities: Henry Purdy, which was very good defending on the cross-kick; Billy Burns' clean break; and then the one with Charlie (Sharples) when he broke at the top right hand corner.

"Against a team who defend as well as Saracens you have got to take your opportunities. The positive is that we created a lot of opportunities.

"I thought we played some good rugby. I thought the effort and energy made it difficult for Saracens but ultimately it wasn't enough to win the game."


From Belfast Telegraph