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'I was the the person who made all the changes to the team'

By PA
Manu Vunipola /Press Association

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Saracens boss Mark McCall described Gloucester’s improvement under George Skivington as “remarkable” after his team suffered a 54-7 Gallagher Premiership defeat at Kingsholm.

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Gloucester missed out on the play-offs, finishing fifth after Northampton secured the remaining spot by crushing Newcastle.

Saracens, who will host Harlequins in the play-offs next weekend, rested England internationals like Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly, and they fell to their second-heaviest defeat in Premiership history.

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“Their improvement under George has been remarkable, really,” McCall said.

“Their squad isn’t that much different, to be honest. They’ve got a real back-bone now which wasn’t there before.

“They do the fundamentals very well, and they have got firepower to burn on the outside. They are going to be a real force to be reckoned with.

“It is always disappointing when you lose by that margin. I am not sure if the score reflected the effort we put into the match, to be honest.

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“They were incredibly clinical when they got down our end. Their rolling maul was too good for us today. They scored at least four tries from the rolling maul. We huffed and we puffed.”

Saracens showed 15 changes from the team that beat Northampton a fortnight ago, and McCall added: “I was the the person who made all the changes to the team.

“We had taken the decision to rest our XV for next week, and we will see next week whether that has paid off or not.

“We took a decision over what was best for us, we felt, and we will see next week whether that is a good decision or not.”

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Gloucester were outstanding throughout, setting up a comprehensive success through first-half tries from hooker Jack Singleton, flanker Jordy Reid and full-back Santiago Carreras.

Saracens had no answer, with Gloucester superior in all departments, and second-half tries were added by Singleton, replacement hooker Santiago Socino, Ollie Thorley, his fellow wing Louis Rees-Zammit and flanker Jack Clement, while fly-half Adam Hastings kicked seven conversions.

A Max Malins try and a Manu Vunipola conversion provided Saracens’ solitary points, although the cavalry will return to face Quins.

There was also some good news for England head coach Eddie Jones ahead of next month’s Australia tour, with Gloucester wing Jonny May making a second-half comeback appearance after five months out injured.

Reflecting on the result, Gloucester head coach Skivington said: “Sneaking in the play-offs would have been ideal, obviously, but I think in terms of what we could control I thought it was a really tight-knit performance.

“We wanted to get some maul drives going and our defence to be top-notch. We wanted to give a proper performance. The rest of it was always going to take care of itself, and it hasn’t fallen our way.

“I thought the boys stuck to process really well. I am very proud of them.

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“Sometimes when you get ahead, it is very easy to ease up, but out of respect for everyone who comes here week in, week out, it was important to stick to what we are about.

“There is a huge amount for us to work on. If we want to be a top team year after year, we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas.

“The foundation is that we have a really good group of players who work really hard. There are good people, good leaders in there.”

On May’s return, meanwhile, Skivington added: “It was great to have Jonny out there, to get a little bit of a run-out and get rid of those cobwebs.”

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