Wednesday 13 December 2017

McCall insists mission improbable won't deter Saracens


Saracens head coach Mark McCall insists his side will continue fighting to win every remaining game in Pool 2 despite a defeat that makes it virtually impossible for them to reach the quarter-finals.

"We're very disappointed after three games in our pool which have all been very close, all of which we could have won yet we finished up losing all three," said McCall. "But we won't pack things in. We'll go out to win all of our remaining games with the belief that we can still have an impact on this pool. We gave away some poor penalties and there was a small mistake that led to a try but you must remember they're a very good rugby team. "They had a lot of ball during one particular spell of the game and the truth is we defended for too long in the match. They were attacking as a force with some pretty big guys yet we did very well to get back in the game the way we did."

Rugby director Brendan Venter sent his own quiet message to ERC in the shape of a non-interview with Sky Television. Confronted by a microphone, Venter simply repeated the questions asked of him, saying nothing of note.

It was an apparent response to the £23,000 fine which the Heineken Cup organisers imposed for remarks he made about the competition and refereeing following Saracens' defeat by Leinster at Wembley in round two. Racing Metro coach and former All Black Simon Mannix admitted he was very pleased to come away from Vicarage Road with four points. "The measure of a team is how they defend and I thought we defended extremely well when we had to.

"We came here knowing Saracens are a quality side who would give us a hell of a fight. Our pool is probably the toughest given the four sides in it and it could still go down to the wire. I see this win as a turning point for us in a very, very difficult competition.

"I'm very proud of the boys because we had to make our tackles count and they were still coming at us in the last few minutes."

It all began so well for Saracens, who went ahead with a try by Noah Cato and a penalty from Owen Farrell.

But once Racing got into home territory penalties by Jon Wisniewski and Francois Steyn got them firmly back in the match.

It took an error by Brad Barritt to set Racing on their way. Attempting to flick a kick through by Sereli Bobo, Barritt only succeeded in steering the ball into the path of Juan Martin Hernandez, who scored from close range.

The respective kickers kept the scoreboard ticking over but when Bobo finished off a splendid solo score from 40 yards it left Saracens chasing shadows.

Barritt made amends for his error, finishing off a succession of attacking phases with a good try in the corner which teenager Farrell converted from wide out.

But Racing wound down the clock at a ruck leaving their hosts with a bonus point that will simply not be enough to matter when this pool is resolved.

Scorers -- Saracens: Cato, Barritt, tries; Farrell, 3 pens, con. Racing Metro: Hernandez, Bobo, tries; Wisniewski pen, con, drop goal; Steyn 2 pens.

Saracens: C Wyles; N Cato (N Mordt 71), D Strettle, B Barritt, J Short; O Farrell, N De Kock (R Wigglesworth 52), R Gill (D Carstens 52), S Brits (J George 52), P Du Plessis (C Nieto 52), S Borthwick, M Botha (G Kruis 52), J Burger, A Saull, E Joubert (K Brown 71).

Racing Metro: J Hernandez (D Scarborough 65); S Bobo, H Chavancy, F Steyn, M Bergamasco; J Wisniewski, M Loree; A Lo Cicero, C Festuccia (B Noirot 65), J Orlandi, J Dellape (K Ghezal 71), JNailiko, J Leo'o (R Vaquin 53), J Cronje (B Le Roux 68), S Chabal.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).

Sunday Independent

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