Mark McCall praised the impact of his young Saracens substitutes despite their 28-20 defeat to Leicester at Allianz Park on Sunday.

A dazzling performance from Leicester saw them up 21-6 by half time, encouraged by an early lead from Manu Tuilagi, who edged his way through the Sarries line to score under the posts.

Matt Toomua converted, and followed suit after tries from Greg Bateman, Telusa Veainu and Jonah Holmes, to give Tigers a bonus point victory which sees them placed seventh in the Premiership table.

Two second-half tries from England under-20s fly-half Max Malins could not undo the damage done by Leicester, while replacements Scott Spurling, Tom Whiteley and Rotimi Segun also impressed in an energetic second-half performance from Sarries which belied the scoreline.

“The kids who came off the bench in the last 15 or 20 minutes did brilliantly and gave us a real bit of energy,” said McCall.

“It was an incredible impact from the bench. Max Malins, Tom Whiteley and Scott Spurling all did well and it’s a shame we couldn’t have stuck in at the end.

“We defended for the whole of the half and didn’t defend very well.

“We lost a lot of collisions all the way through but to give Leicester some credit they were really physical and confrontational in attack.

“They kept on winning the gain line and we were going backwards a lot of the time.

“Overall it was a very poor display.”

Saracens face a huge challenge on Saturday as they head to Exeter in a clash for the top of the table, with Chiefs currently four points ahead with five rounds left to play.

McCall may face a selection headache after losing Calum Clark to an arm injury during the Leicester game, as well as his replacement Sione Vailanu.

The Six Nations takes a rest next weekend after Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Jamie George, Richard Wigglesworth and Sean Maitland were all involved in Scotland’s 25-13 demolition of England on Saturday.

England’s next game is on March 10, against France at Stade de France.