Thursday 18 January 2018

Mark McCall applauds 'extraordinary' defence as Saracens see off Munster

Mark McCall's Saracens proved too strong for Munster
Mark McCall's Saracens proved too strong for Munster

Mark McCall hailed Saracens' "extraordinary" defence as they swept aside Munster 26-10 at the Aviva Stadium to reach the Champions Cup final.

The holders will defend their crown in Edinburgh on May 13 against either Clermont or Leinster, who meet on Sunday, after succeeding where England and Wasps failed last month by prevailing in Dublin.

To book their place at Murrayfield they were forced to absorb a ferocious first-half onslaught from Munster, yet still led 6-3 at half-time before pulling clear through tries from Mako Vunipola and Chris Wyles.

"I thought our defence was extraordinary. Our defence was the big thing. We soaked up a lot of pressure and coped with their attack really well," director of rugby McCall said.

"They game started exactly as they would have wanted. We couldn't really escape our half in the first half but our defence remained good.

"We just need to stay patient and persistent as a group and not get frustrated, and I thought we did and the pressure eventually told.

"It was a brilliant occasion. Munster's supporters are as good as any in the world. In the face of that, the fight and the togetherness we had to show to win the game was brilliant."

Victory nudged Saracens closer to a repeat of last season's European and domestic double and, given the conclusive manner in which they demolished Munster, they have every chance of emulating the Leicester sides of 2001 and 2002.

"We think we can get better because the age profile of the team is really good," McCall said.

"We obviously want this to go on for a while and if you looked at how we defended, you saw some really good qualities.

"We never talk about another double. This match was about this match. If we lose in the final then we lose. We want to be consistent as a group and front up every week.

"We've got a lot of experience in big games now and that experience really stood us in good stead against Munster."

Owen Farrell maintained the scoreboard pressure with two conversions and four penalties in an immaculate afternoon for the England playmaker.

"We hope that we can adapt to anything. We defend the way we defend and that is it," Farrell said.

"To go that long under that amount of pressure and still get off the line and still put them under pressure and hit the way we did was brilliant.

"You never thought you've got the wining of the game but that set we did defensively just before half-time - they'd been in our half for quite a while - seemed to knock them back quite a bit. That gave us a really good feeling going into half-time.

"We could probably be more clinical. As you could see we left a couple of tries out there. They would have given us more control."

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus admitted the scoreline was a true reflection of Saracens' superiority.

"We played against a team that were better than us. That's a reality," Erasmus said.

"Even though there were stages that were closer and we had a few opportunities, I thought the scoreboard was a true reflection of the game

"That's the way Saracens play. Not just applying pressure but absorbing pressure and finishing you off in the last 15 or 20 minutes.

"That's been the storyline this season against all teams and they did the same against us.

"I think the disappointment is more for the supporters but then we have to be realistic. This is the reality, we only got this far. We are 15 or 20 points behind Saracens."

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