Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall says Allianz Park is starting to feel like home after opener against Exeter

Picture: Action Images

Picture: Action Images

First published in Saracens
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Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall says Allianz Park is starting to feel like home after the Men in Black hosted their first ever Premiership match against Exeter on Saturday.

The new 10,000 seater stadium in Barnet saw Saracens record a 31-11 victory but all eyes were on the setting and the artificial pitch which is the first of its kind to be used in professional rugby union.

"I suppose it does feel like home because we've watched it as it's grown over the last 12 months, we've been down here quite a lot over the last 6 weeks and it's getting that way," McCall said after the match.

"I thought there was nothing to be negative about. 

"We didn't have reset scrums and it was - or it seemed to be - a faster game with more ball in hand play in this game than we we've had previously, so there's a lot to be positive about I think.

"I think the great thing was the atmosphere. We've all been to Vicarage Road over the last couple of years and it wasn't like that. There was a real atmosphere during the warm up, during the game the crowd really got behind the team.

"Talking to the players in the changing room they certainly really enjoyed that experience."

The plastic pitch did not seem to change the game dramatically although Charlie Hodgson was unusually wayward with his kicking.

The Saracens fly-half missed his first three kicks in the first half, the last of which was straight and only 25m out and McCall admitted the pitch may have played a part.

"It's interesting, that could be a thing that could need a bit of getting used to," he said.

"The kicking tee maybe doesn't go down quite as far on that surface as it does on others. 

"Exeter had their practice on here yesterday [Friday] so Gareth Steenson would have kicked here yesterday and Charlie has been here quite a long time.

"So it might be an issue but Charlie showed what he can do, he was 100 per cent in the second half."

The win will be a welcome boost for the Men in Black after they bounced back from a surprise defeat to London Irish the week before.

And McCall admitted the squad were handed a "reminder" of their duties earlier in the week.

He said: "Sometimes in a season you need a reminder of what we need to do.

"We had certain things we didn't bring to the party against London Irish and the players identified that earlier in the week.

"We've got a good group, they're pretty good at responding to setbacks and we certainly did that against Exeter."

 

 

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