McCall delighted with Sarries win
April 16, 2011
Luke Arscott of Exeter Chiefs bursts past Mouritz Botha of Saracens during the Premiership clash © Getty Images
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was delighted his side kept the pressure on Aviva Premiership leaders Leicester with a 33-12 at Exeter.
The victory, a seventh league success in a row, kept them two points behind the Tigers after their first visit to Sandy Park.
The visitors led 13-5 at the interval and after a slightly shaky start to the second period looked to have scored 20 unanswered points to seal the game but the Chiefs scored a late converted try. Rhys Gill, Chris Wyles and Noah Cato scored the Saracens tries, all converted by fullback Alex Goode who also landed three penalties, while Owen Farrell landed a well struck drop goal.
"It was a very good because we know that before this game Exeter have only lost three home league games so for us to get any sort of win was great," said McCall. "There were periods of time when we were certainly on the back foot, especially the first 10 minutes of the second half when the game was in the balance with us 13-5 in front but we defended brilliantly during that time.
"We soaked up the pressure and every time we got in their half we came away with some points and that was key. I think that we left a couple of tries out there but overall we are pleased with the result."
McCall believes a number of his players could be in Martin Johnson's initial squad of 60 to be announced in June for the World Cup, including prop Matt Stevens who has made a big impression since he joined the club in January.
The former Ireland centre added, "We are second in the Premiership, having won 16 out of 20 games, so we deserve to get some sort of recognition. There were six English qualified players in the backs and three on the bench."
Exeter's first half points came from Jason Shoemark, with Sireli Naqelevuki getting the late touchdown which Ignacio Mieres converted from out wide in what was the Chiefs' biggest home Premiership defeat.
The Chiefs had won 23-9 at Vicarage Road in October but they have now lost their last four games, three of them on the road and on Wednesday face an RFU disciplinary hearing and a possible points deduction.
"We have been taught a bit of a lesson by a team that are in good form," said Exeter's head coach Rob Baxter. "We made a lot of promises to ourselves during this season about enjoying the experience of the Premiership.
"But, the truth is, I think that we haven't really enjoyed the past two or three weeks because, for whatever reason, we are not playing right to the edge that we can do and we have just lost that a little.
"We have to try and find that again for our last two games. Saracens are cranking things up at this stage of the season to win big things and we are almost looking like the end of the season is just a few weeks away."
Exeter are due to appear before a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday to answer a charge that they fielded three overseas players in a match day squad, more than the permitted two, in breach of Premiership regulations.
The Chiefs have admitted an administrative error in the games against London Irish and Leeds and have fully co-operated with the investigation team but could face a 10-point deduction.
Keiron Northcott, the Chiefs deputy chief executive, said, "We know what the maximum penalty could be but it was an administrative error. We weren't looking for any gain from fielding three overseas players in the squads, and in fact in one of the players didn't come off the bench in one of the games.
"We have put our hands up - we have made a mistake - we have learnt from it and it certainly won't happen again but we are working fully with the Rugby Football Union.
"It is in their hands now and we hope that they are going to realistic and lenient about it. Obviously everyone is a little disappointed because there is a cloud hanging over us and until we know, nothing is certain."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor