McCall: Haskell lucky

  • Last Updated: November 4 2012, 18:28 GMT

Post-match reaction to Saracens 29-24 victory over Wasps in the Aviva Premiership on Sunday.

Mark McCall: Saracens boss

Saracens boss Mark McCall believes England back-row forward James Haskell got off lightly for the bone-shaking challenge which saw Sarries lock Alistair Hargreaves carried off on a stretcher during Sunday's 29-24 win over Wasps.

Haskell, who appeared to go in high, sparked the anger of the home fans but escaped a card from referee JP Doyle who, after consulting television match official David Grashoff, deemed the tackle worthy of only a penalty in the way of punishment.

"It wasn't the greatest hit of all time," said director of rugby McCall.

"Alistair's on his feet but he's a bit groggy. I think a penalty on its own could be regarded as a bit lenient."

Wasps rugby director Dai Young saw it differently, stating: "I thought it was a good tackle.

"First and foremost, we hope the player's okay because nobody likes to see anybody going off, but the tackle looked okay to me."

The incident concluded an eventful day for Hargreaves, who had earlier scored Sarries' only try and been sin-binned for going over the top at a ruck.

Charlie Hodgson kicked seven penalties from seven attempts, though he missed the conversion after Hargreaves' charge-down score, and Nils Mordt also slotted a three-pointer while on as a blood replacement for Hodgson.

Tom Varndell and Charlie Davies scored tries for Wasps, who crucially missed three penalties and a conversion.

McCall was pleased with his side's character as they overcame the loss of Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton, Mouritz Botha, Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola to England call-ups.

He said: "The first half was a bit of a disappointment but I'm just proud of the players for getting the job done.

"It wasn't an easy day to play rugby and Wasps really put it to us. They were really physical and made life very hard. But, given the number of players missing, our younger players stepped up.

"I thought the difference between the two teams was our set-piece. The scrum and the lineout were excellent."

Saracens, who have had "home" matches at Wembley, Twickenham and Brussels this season, were back at their Vicarage Road home in Watford for the first time since May and McCall added: "This is our 10th game and it's been an unusual 10 weeks.

"We've been everywhere and we came back today to our 10th different ground so I'm very proud of the whole group. To have got through the 10-game period and lost only one game is exceptional."

Hodgson suffered a blow to his cheekbone and McCall, who had no complaints about that injury, added: "It doesn't look great. He'll go and get a scan."

Wasps battled to the final whistle to salvage a losing bonus point, with Davies' 77th-minute score converted by Tom Bell.

And Young said: "I was pleased with a lot of aspects of our performance but when you step up a level - and that's what we've done against Saracens today - you have to be better.

"Those little important lineouts, the little kick-chases and giving away too many penalties cost us and we were chasing the game.

"I was pleased that we came back in the last 10 minutes and came away with something but if we want to mix it with the real top guys, we can't keep making those errors.

"Our penalty count wasn't something we can be proud of and we have to make sure we are more disciplined.

"We had an opportunity today but you have to be efficient and effective because we all know how efficient Saracens are at squeezing games out. That's something we have to get better at."


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