Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall admits a sluggish first-half performance was to blame for his team’s shock 27-13 defeat to Northampton Saints which the Sarries boss described as “massively disappointing”.

The Men in Black were 17-0 behind after a disastrous first 40 which saw Saints run in two unanswered tries and despite improving in the second period the damage had already been done.

“It’s massively disappointing,” McCall said. “We just gave ourselves a mountain to climb at half-time.

“We made a lot of errors in that first half, a number of poor choices as well and Northampton put us under a lot of pressure especially in that first half and we made a lot of mistakes as a result.

“Northampton were very, very good today, they were physical, their defence was outstanding, our discipline in the first 20 minutes wasn’t great, given the field position we were in for the first try off the rolling maul.

“We gave away an unbelievably soft try after that - after a mistake on the halfway line they counter rucked and took their chance very well and that was the story today.

“They were very strong, they took their chances very well when they came along and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”

Sarries scored 13 points to Saints’ ten in the second period, thanks to a try from Duncan Taylor and two penalties from Owen Farrell, and McCall said there were glimpses of his team's best form in the second 40.

“We weren’t good today and as I say they put us under a lot of pressure and we made more errors in that first half than we’ve made in a lot of games this season.

“We showed in patches in the second half what we’re capable of.

"We put them under a bit of pressure and created a couple of chances – at least we gave it a real go but the first half was very un-Saracens-like.”