Aviva Premiership: Mark McCall pleased after Saracens beat Exeter

Last Updated: 23/02/14 7:00pm

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Big impact: Joel Tomkins is tackled by Dave Ewers and Ian Whitten

Big impact: Joel Tomkins is tackled by Dave Ewers and Ian Whitten

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Saracens boss Mark McCall was delighted with England centre Joel Tomkins' first full appearance since missing the start of the Six Nations through a knee injury as his side beat Exeter 23-10 in the Aviva Premiership.

Tomkins, sidelined for three months after damaging his knee in England's 30-22 Twickenham defeat by New Zealand in November, paired up with fellow England centre Brad Barritt.

McCall thinks Tomkins made a big impact in hard-fought victory which keeps Saracens in second place, a point behind Northampton, ahead of Friday night's visit to in-form Bath.

"It's great to see Joel back," said director of rugby McCall.

"In the first 20 minutes we were lethargic. We were a second off in everything we did but then Joel made a couple of important breaks and got us on the front foot.

"(Next opponents) Bath are on a roll at the moment and have been playing some good rugby.

"Their set-piece is very strong and it's going to be a big battle.

"It was a mountain for us to come back from 7-0 down when they had a strong wind in the second half but we dominated the set-piece today."

The Saracens boss added that former England lock Mouritz Botha, carried off during the second half after suffering a worrying-looking neck injury in a tackle, had been taken to hospital "as a precaution but I think he's OK".

Baxter setback

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter, whose side suffered their fifth successive Premiership defeat after establishing a 10-7 lead after 47 minutes, described the latest setback as "the story of our season".

He said: "We were very competitive for large parts of the game but when the pressure comes on we start to struggle a little bit.

"We scored the penalty which took us into the lead but then we dropped the restart which becomes a penalty and we're struggling.

"From being a team in the lead, with the wind behind us, all of a sudden we found ourselves playing in our own half - but all credit to Saracens. They played the elements exceptionally well.

"I can't fault the players for effort. We had quite a lot of good individual performances out there but it's just some of the decision-making under pressure. We have to keep getting better at it."

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