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'It doesn't look great' - Mark McCall worried for Mako Vunipola

By PA
Saracens' Mako Vunipola (left) cheers on his team mates from the side lines during the Gallagher Premiership match at the StoneX Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday March 5, 2022. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Mark McCall hailed Saracens’ fighting spirit as they repelled a second-half fightback from Leicester to win 34-27 in a Gallagher Premiership title clash at StoneX Stadium.

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Saracens led 29-13 shortly after the interval but playing into a strong wind, they then spent lengthy spells defending their line, which was breached twice by Nic Dolly and Ollie Chessum.

Leicester went in search of the match-winning score but it was home hooker Tom Woolstencroft who crossed next as his team claimed a maximum five-point haul.

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“We probably deserved it overall. There was the odd moment where it felt like we could have packed up,” director of rugby McCall said.

“The level of commitment we showed in our 22 and the level of fight we had for one another was pretty special.

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“We were under a lot of pressure having got ourselves into a decent position with that try just after half-time.

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“But the way we fought is something to be proud of and it’s something we can move forward with.

“There was obviously a very strong wind and every time we made a mistake or gave away a penalty, and we gave away a lot of penalties in the second-half, George Ford would put us back in our own 22.

“Leicester are one of the best teams in the competition at taking opportunities down your end. They had a lot of opportunities but didn’t score that many. That level of commitment in the team was pretty special.”

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Mako Vunipola limped off with an ankle injury early in the game and the out-of-favour England prop now faces a spell on the sidelines.

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“It doesn’t look great. It’s such a shame because he’s been playing such wonderful rugby,” McCall said.

Leicester boss Steve Borthwick insisted his runaway Premiership leaders will emerge stronger for their experience in north London.

“Saracens are the best team in the league, I have said it all along. This performance shows there is a lot of potential and growth in this team,” Borthwick said.

“We have been here 18 months, Saracens have been together a decade. We saw what a good team they are and quite rightly they have been at the top of European rugby for years.

“They have run that system of defence for a lot of years and it is very well drilled. We are still at a young stage but we will take a lot from the game.”

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