Owen Farrell was told last weekend to stay away from Allianz Park and instead take care of business in the delivery ward. Saracens easily survived without their prominent playmaker, brushing aside a hapless Glasgow in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.
However, Farrell was badly needed by the Londoners on his return to action a week after the birth of his first child. Saracens were losing 5-6 at half-time on Saturday against Newcastle, the bottom side in the Premiership.
And director of rugby Mark McCall later revealed how influential Farrell was in delivering some badly needed home truths during the interval team talk, words that produced a sufficient enough response to kick-start the revival that ensured a 26-12 win.
“We made nine changes from last week’s win and the players have been on a mini-break to Austria so we’ve had a restricted training week,” explained McCall following a win that heralded tries from Sean Maitland, Max Malins, Alex Lozowski and Nick Tompkins.
“In the first half, we made a lot of mistakes and our execution was poor. Our handling errors were huge but fortunately our defence was very good.
Offloads. For. Days. ?@Saracens scored an absolutely STUNNING team try against Newcastle!
Breathtaking pace ? pic.twitter.com/p8CXGqXZLJ
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 6, 2019
“Owen said a lot of things at half time so we understood what needed to improve in the second half. We still continued to make errors but we but it was a bit more like it, so I’m glad we found a way to win.”
Saracens’ Farrell-inspired riposte left Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards bemoaning his side’s inability to take their chances. The defeat kept them rooted to the bottom of the Gallagher Premiership with four games to go and they remain three points behind 11th-placed Worcester.
Tane Takulua kicked four penalties for Newcastle but it was not enough to secure a bonus point as they failed to take advantage of their first-half dominance. Richards said: “We had three clear-cut try-scoring chances in 60 minutes and took none, they had three and took all of them. Our scrum was dominant for 50 minutes and our line-out functioned really well.”
When Takulua kicked his fourth penalty, three minutes from time, Newcastle looked to have earned a deserved bonus point but a disputed last-minute try from Lozowski took that away. Prior to Lozowski’s finish, Saracens’ wing Alex Lewington appeared to have put a foot in touch but after lengthy discussions with the TMO, the try stood.
Richards said: “I don’t know it whether it was a try or not but I have to question why we were given such an inexperienced set of officials as we are not getting the bounce of the ball, which we need in our present position.”
Next up for Newcastle is a home against fellow strugglers Leicester next Friday evening. Richards said: “We have to replicate this performance and effort next week but looking at Leicester’s line-up today they are a very strong side. Mark Wilson has tweaked his back but he should be back for next week.”
– Press Association
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