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Mako Vunipola 'not a dirty player' insists Saracens boss after red card

By PA
(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Saracens head coach Joe Shaw defended Mako Vunipola’s disciplinary record after a reckless clear-out earned him the first red card of his career in their 34-14 win over Newcastle.

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Sarries ran in five tries to make it four Gallagher Premiership wins on the bounce, with the England prop’s dismissal the only blot on their copybook.

Vunipola, 31, could face a ban after a clear-out on Tom Penny.

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“The first thing about Mako is that he is not a dirty player,” said Shaw.

“That’s his first red card which, considering the amount of games he’s played, says something. It was reckless but we’ll see what happens in the coming days.”

Shaw’s side blew Falcons away in the first half, scoring 26 points without reply.

The bonus point was in the bag after 32 minutes when Max Malins crossed, adding to earlier tries from Alex Lewington, Kapeli Pifeleti and Alex Lozowski.

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“We had the conditions with us in that first half and that gave us a strong position,” said Shaw.

“I’m pleased with how we were able to manage the game today and how we went about our business on both sides of the ball.

“It’s never easy to come here and to go 14 points up inside the first 10 minutes certainly made things a bit easier for us against a well-coached side and players with a lot of grit.

“It’s easy to look at our attack today, but I thought our defence especially in that first 40 minutes was terrific. It was the most impressive part of the game.”

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Malins underlined the visitors’ dominance when he scored his second try of the game within moments of Vunipola’s dismissal.

Flanker Theo McFarland was again impressive in the loose after his starring role in last weekend’s demolition of champions Leicester.

Falcons capitalised on the man advantage to score tries from England international Jamie Blamire and Mateo Carreras, but Dave Walder’s men were unable to build on their first Premiership win of the season last time out against Bristol.

“Saracens are a really well-drilled team with a lot of superstars, but I’m disappointed at how easy we’ve made it for them today,” Walder said.

“When you give them a 14-point head start after only six or seven minutes then you know it will be a long afternoon.

“We can’t look anywhere else other than to ourselves for what went wrong. We were too sluggish and gave them too much time on their feet. It’s these things that we will look at through the week.

“They showed why they are the top team in the land because they are ruthless and just so clinical. It’s a different style of rugby to what I’ve seen over the years. They’ve been able to move the ball a bit more and freshen things up.

“It shows the quality of the side when you are able to have someone like Alex Goode on the bench with all of his Premiership appearances and European Cups. He’s being kept out of the team by a few England internationals.”

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