Saracens 15-11 London Irish, Aviva Premiership, Vicarage Road
McCall unhappy with Sarries display
December 2, 2011
Mark McCall looks for improvements
Saracens rugby director Mark McCall will hold an inquest this week into his team's below-par first half of the 15-11 win over London Irish in the Aviva premiership.
McCall will waste no time pointing out that his team's next challenge comes at Wembley Stadium on Saturday in the form of Ospreys in round three of their Heineken Cup campaign. He will also point out that their opening 40 minutes fell below the standards expected of the Premiership champions.
"We defended pretty well in parts, scrambled well in others when we fell off tackles." said McCall. "But it was a disappointing match, a scrappy match and we are disappointed with our first half performance.
"We were not up to our usual standards in certain areas and we'll definitely be looking at that during the week. Ospreys beat Munster on the weekend and will offer a big challenge. But we have played six games at Wembley and won five of them, our players really enjoy their outings there, as do our supporters."
McCall paid tribute to London Irish who took the game to their hosts with ambition and some power.
"A lot of players put in a big shift for Irish out there and we had to defend well at times," he said. "But we have a number of guys in the walking wounded at the moment and hope to have Brad Barritt and Charlie Hodgson back for the weekend, while Schalk Brits will have served his suspension."
Irish head coach Toby Booth admitted his team came up short in terms of taking chances, but called for more unity between officials when it comes to scrummaging. Time and again, the props in action questioned decisions on the grounds of consistency, and Booth believes it is wrong to leave referees to cope with so complicated an area alone.
"We need all three officials to work better as a team of three because a referee alone cannot have eyes everywhere." said Booth. "Right now, it's a bit like those numbers that come out on balls late on a Saturday night. I believe there is a degree of 'guesstimation' when it comes to scrums and who is in the right and the wrong.
"Referees have a difficult job there and should be supported all the time by their assistant referees."
Booth made no excuses over the game. He said: "They are the champions, well drilled and well coached. You must take points when you get as close to their line as we did on a number of occasions.
"The difference between the teams was taking chances. We left their 22 too often empty handed. Saracens kicked all of their goals and left us with only one point to show for our efforts.
"Tom Homer deserves a mention because he was very sick all week yet insisted he wanted to play. By half-time he was running on empty. And three of the four locks out there are internationals, yet the outstanding lock was Matt Garvey whose carrying and all-round contribution make him the typical modern second row."
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