Mark McCall ‘amazed’ by Saracens resilience in Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final
Mark McCall admits he is still amazed at how his Saracens team managed to pull off the biggest comeback in Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final history to retain their title.
Trailing the impressive Exeter Chiefs by 11 points midway through the second half at Twickenham, the reigning champions roared back with tries from Liam Williams, Sean Maitland and Jamie George to record a memorable 37-34 victory.
It was Saracens’ seventh Premiership Rugby Final in the past decade, their fourth victory in the past five years and a second domestic-European double following last month’s triumph over Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup final.
- Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final report
- Key moments and analysis from the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final
- How social media reacted to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final
At 27-16 down they looked dead and buried but showed the sort of resilience that has come to define the McCall era – leaving the director of rugby stunned.
“We huffed and puffed but made a lot of errors and at 27-16 down most teams are crushed,” mused McCall. “You’re tired, it’s hot, you know you’re not playing very well but somehow this group found a way to rally themselves.
“It was a fantastic last 20 minutes physically and emotionally. This group never ceases to amaze me – how they found energy from somewhere.
“Then, once we went three points up I thought we played brilliant pressure rugby, we suffocated them and it was a real masterclass in how to close out a game.
“I suppose we managed it because of what we’ve been through. Six years with this group of players, and we’ve had some really brilliant moments but some painful experiences too.
“That experience counts for something. Without the previous finals I don’t think we could have done what we did.”
🎤 ” For JAAAMIE GEEEEOOORRRGGEEE” 🎉
Can this squad get even better next year?? 🧐 pic.twitter.com/Um6B33G02Y
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) June 2, 2019
The back-and-forth nature of the game was in contrast to last year’s Final, where Saracens blew Exeter away en route to a fairly routine 27-10 triumph.
Twelve months on, the Chiefs proved they are more than capable of matching the Londoners and McCall was quick to credit the West Country side for just how hard they made it for Saracens.
“This was a really tough final – probably the toughest one we’ve had in Premiership Rugby – against a really good side who played really well either side of half-time,” he added.
“We couldn’t control them or stop the speed of their ball and we were second best in everything.
“It’s probably the worst we’ve played in a final and a lot of that goes down to the opposition and how well they played.
“It’s one of the most satisfying wins for all those reasons – to find a way in the last 20 minutes. It’s been the hallmark of the team this season.”