Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall piled the praise on fly-half Alex Lozowski, as his new signing and Eddie Jones’ latest England recruit impressed once again with a 14-point haul at Bristol Rugby.
The London side bounced back from their first Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat of the season last weekend against Harlequins in style, as they turned up the heat in the second half to secure a bonus-point win.
In-form Lozowski was the only try-scorer in a tense first period, but after he doubled his tally shortly after the interval, Sarries put the hammer down and Chris Wyles, Jamie George, and George Kruis all crossed.
But there was no doubt in McCall’s mind who the real star of the show was, and he admits Lozowski has taken the bull by the horns in the absence of England No.10 Owen Farrell.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind for Alex,” McCall said.
“He was third choice at Wasps last season, but Owen (Farrell) has got an injury, and he has been chucked in at the deep end and done pretty well.
“We saw a player with real growth and potential. What he needed was some time in the saddle and just playing games, and he is getting that now with Owen’s injury.
“I thought it was a really good professional performance by us. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought we dominated the game and dominated field position.
“We put them under a lot of pressure, and 10-0 didn’t feel a satisfactory lead at half-time, but I think all of that hard work paid off in the second-half and we were able to get the bonus point that we wanted.
“I was pleased with our energy, and when we had to defend we defended with real intent. The pressure eventually told, and we got what we wanted from the game, which was pleasing.”
Meanwhile, Andy Robinson could not hide his disappointment with the result because of the errors his side made.
The closest the hosts came to troubling the scoreboard came in the second half where, despite a series of five-metre lineouts and scrums, the reigning Aviva Premiership Rugby champions held firm.
And Robinson insists his side need to cut out their mistakes if they are to pile the pressure on any of their opponents in the coming weeks.
“I’m disappointed in the result,” he said. “I think we started off a lot better, but again we haven’t performed for 80 minutes.
“We relieved the pressure valve by giving the penalty away and getting a charge-down straight away in the second half – both things that are within our control – and that just undid all the good work we’d done.
“One of the things we talked about was to build pressure on the opposition, but our first two plays, we turned over.
“I thought we defended the maul and our line very well in the first half; there were some courageous tackles made and the guys worked very hard.
“But you’ve got to keep repeating that work and if you look at Saracens they didn’t change the way they played that game.
“They kept on playing the same way, kept their accuracy, and throughout put massive pressure on us so we made the errors – which is disappointing.”
Bristol Rugby: J Williams; Edwards (Wallace 60), Tovey, Hurrell (Jarvis 29), Amesbury; Pisi, Cliff (R Williams 67); Traynor (Bevington 48), McMillan (Crumpton 60), Perenise (Cortes 60), Phillips (Joyce 57), Sorenson, Fisher, Lam (Eadie 55), Crane
Saracens: Wyles; Ellery (Perkins 72), Tompkins, Barritt (Bosch 67), Gallagher; Lozowski, Spencer (Wigglesworth 55); M Vunipola (Barrington 55), George (Spurling 72), Du Plessis (Figallo 40), Itoje (Hamilton 63), Kruis, Wray, Burger, B Vunipola (Rhodes 46)
Tries: Lozowski 2, Wyles, George, Kruis
Conversions: Ben Spencer 2, Lozowski 2
Penalties: Ben Spencer 2
Referee: Ian Tempest