Leicester 18-22 Saracens, Aviva Premiership Final, May 28
McCall: Sarries are going places
May 28, 2011
Sarries boss Mark McCall talks to ESPN
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall hopes that their battling victory over Leicester to win the Aviva Premiership Final will herald a new era of success for the side.
The Watford-based club claimed their first English league title with a 22-18 triumph, securing revenge for last season's heartbreaking loss to Leicester at the same stage.
"Two years ago we said it was going to be about bringing a group of people together, creating friendships and creating memories," he said. "You have to like each other and back each other up. You have to fight and fight.
"We have a brilliant squad of players and a brilliant guiding system above them. Had we lost today, it would have been hard to take but we would have coped with it. We hope today is the start of something, not the end of something.
"We've been here twice in a row and we want to be there at the business end of every season. We're a club that's growing and had we conceded a try in the last minute we would still have been going places."
Saracens, who have now amassed 13 consecutive victories, were forced to weather a ferocious injury-time assault consisting of 32 phases as Leicester sought to complete a spirited comeback.
"In a sick sort of way it was a fitting ending because it tells you a lot about Leicester as a club the fact they were 19-9 down but refused to give up," he said. "But hopefully it tells you something about our team as well. We refused to be beaten and at the end we fought and we fought."
South African hooker Schalk Brits emerged as the star of the afternoon with a Man of the Match display. The 30-year-old set up the ultimately decisive 29th-minute try for James Short, threatened in attack throughout and even found time to execute a critical late tackle on Alesana Tuilagi.
"That was one of the best individual performances I've seen," McCall said. "He was like superman. He was remarkable and hookers aren't meant to play that way. It's not just the runs, he throws the ball beautifully, he scrummages well and he defends so hard. It's not just the flashy things that make him so special."
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill reflects on defeat
Not far behind Brits in the performance stakes was teenager Owen Farrell, who finished with 17 points following a flawless kicking display. Farrell has been tipped as a future England fly-half and his authority will only have enhanced his reputation.
"Every time that a new challenge has been presented to Owen he's risen to it," McCall said. "For a guy one year out of school to play with that kind of composure and control against opposition as good as that is remarkable.
"Possibly they tried to rattle him, but he's a good defender and he doesn't mind mixing it up. Like everyone else he makes mistakes, but for a 19-year-old he has an unbelievable ability to put those mistakes to one side and do the next job. When you have that ability you are going to go places."
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill was philosophical after watching his side fail to win their third successive Premiership title.
"We're disappointed to lose but we have to congratulate Saracens, they played well. On the day maybe they deserved to win," Cockerill said. "Sometimes you lose, that's sport. It's not an exact science. We've been a few seasons with nothing in the cabinet before. We don't have a divine right to win things. We came up short today but it hasn't been a disastrous season."
Cockerill repeated his complaint that fly-half Toby Flood has suffered since working with England kicking coach Dave Alred last autumn. Flood missed two penalties in the second half at a crucial point in Leicester's fightback.
"Floody went to England with a certain percentage and came back with a different one," he said. "Floody's not responsible for the result today but that whole issue with his kicking has been an issue since the autumn. We'll see how it pans out after the World Cup."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success