Sport Rugby

Tuesday 12 December 2017

McCall hails Sarries' inspiration Farrell

Saracens 64 Zebre 3

Owen Farrell of Saracens prepares to take a kick during the match between Saracens and Zebre
Owen Farrell of Saracens prepares to take a kick during the match between Saracens and Zebre

Saracens boss Mark McCall hailed the performance of returning England international Owen Farrell after he contributed 19 points with the boot during the nine-try mauling of Zebre.

Tries from David Strettle, Jacques Burger, Jamie George, Richard Wigglesworth, Ben Ransom, Billy Vunipola, Chris Ashton and a double from Duncan Taylor saw McCall's men claim an easy bonus-point win.

Farrell was making a first start for Saracens since the autumn internationals and McCall insists his number 10 more than played his part during the romp in north London, a week after the clash between the teams in Italy resulted in a 39-10 win for the English side.

"I thought he (Owen Farrell) did well in the autumn and he enjoys coming back to the club. We know how good he is," said McCall. "He has always been good for us and he was good again today.

"I think he gets scrutinised more than other players and people look for small incidents rather than looking at his strengths. He gets a different kind of scrutiny than everyone else which is unfair.

"He was superb today. He's been good for a period of time and people look to criticise him for small mistakes. It was a good performance today, probably better than last week. I'm pleased we went for 80 minutes and scored more tries in the second half than we did last week.

"We need to go and win in Toulouse if we want to top the group and get that home quarter-final. We need as many points as we can. But for now we'll deal with the Premiership as we've got three games before then.

"The squad's in a happy place at the moment but we've got a massive and different challenge next week against the Leicester Tigers."

The only points for Zebre came from the boot of Luciano Orquera and Italian skipper Marco Bortolami admitted he was disappointed with his side's performance.

"It was difficult for us because we couldn't handle the pressure Saracens put on us," Bortolami said. "It was very difficult and hard to play against them. We're not used to this pace.

"I think Saracens can go very far in the tournament. They're very well organised, very physical. They're hard to play against and if they keep this momentum they can go to the end."

Scorers -- Saracens: D Taylor 2 tries, D Strettle, J Burger, J George, R Wigglesworth, J Ransom, M Vunipola, C Ashton try each, O Farrell 8 cons, pen. Zebre: L Orquera pen.

Saracens: B Ransom; C Ashton, M Bosch, D Taylor (C Hodgson 61), D Strettle (A Goode 57); O Farrell, R Wigglesworth (N de Kock 53); R Barrington (M Vunipola 41), J George (S Brits 57), J Johnston (M Stevens 51); S Borthwick (A Hargreaves 41), G Kruis; J Wray, J Burger (E Joubert 64), B Vunipola.

Zebre: G Palazzani; L Sarto (G Toniolatti 41), R Quartaroli, K Ratuvou, G Venditti; L Orquera, B Leonard (A Chillon 54); M Aguero (A de Marchi 34), A Manici (D Giazzon 48), L Leibson (D Chistolini 48); Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami (M van Vuuren 67); M Bergamasco, N Cattina (E Caffini 31), S Vunisa.

Referee: D Phillips (IRFU).

Irish Independent

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