Mark McCall hails his England stars after thumping win over Harlequins
Last Updated: March 25, 2013 7:37am
Mark McCall: Praise for international contingent
Saracens boss Mark McCall praised his England stars after their superb performances in the 27-12 victory over Harlequins.
Owen Farrell contributed 17 points, while Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt and man-of-the-match Mako Vunipola all bounced back from their Six Nations disappointment in some style.
The victory puts Sarries five points clear at the top ahead of Leicester, and eight ahead of Quins in third.
"I've got to take my hat off to our English guys who had a difficult weekend last weekend . All of them, to a man, wanted to play today," said director of rugby McCall.
"It says a lot about the environment and the general group that they are so keen to come back and enjoy it so much - but some of our non-internationals were pretty good today as well."
McCall picked out Ashton, who is under pressure after some below-par performances for England.
"I've got to take my hat off to our English guys who had a difficult weekend last weekend . All of them, to a man, wanted to play today."
He said: "Chris had a really top game and got himself involved, for a guy who has taken his criticism over the last few weeks.
"Two years ago we thought Chris Ashton was the best player in the world and he just needs to have the confidence that his coaches believe in him."
McCall also had words of praise for the way man-of-the-match Vunipola for his battling effort against scrum machine James Johnston, who is joining Saracens from Quins in the summer.
"The best thing he did today was scrummage against James Johnston. For a young prop, with only 12 months in the Premiership behind him, we all know he can do incredibly special things in the loose but he knows what he does in the tight is very important and he did it well today," McCall said.
Conor O'Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby, admitted his team had been outplayed and outmuscled.
"Very disappointed," said O'Shea. "We made too many errors and turned the ball over without really building any phases.
"Physically we were beaten, which is irritating beyond belief. We always pride ourselves on saying results don't matter but performances do - and we didn't perform today.
"We'll learn our lesson but the championship isn't decided today. They were worthy winners but we didn't perform anywhere close to what we know we are capable of.
"What we have to make sure is we play the way we can. We didn't today and you credit that to Saracens - they were excellent - but we will see them again."