Rugby Union

Mark McCall revels in Saracens' first-half display in victory over Toulouse

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Saracens boss Mark McCall hailed a "magnificent" first-half display from his team after they launched their European Champions Cup campaign by defeating French heavyweights Toulouse 32-7 at Allianz Park.

Saracens led 27-0 at the break and their only frustration was the failure to secure a try-scoring bonus point on a rain-swept evening in north London.

England star Owen Farrell kicked 17 points as Saracens eased past the four-time European champions, with wing Chris Wyles scoring two tries and prop Mako Vunipola also touching down.

"We have got to be delighted with how we played in that first half. I thought it was outstanding," McCall said.

"Sometimes, the frustration of the last 25 or 30 minutes can make you disregard some of the really good things you did.

"I thought the first half was magnificent.

"Our energy was brilliant, our defence was brilliant and our attack was really good. We probably left a couple of tries out there in the first 20 minutes of the match.

"I thought their substitutions made a difference in the second half.

"Clearly, the set-piece was the issue. We had three set-pieces five metres from their line and we came away with nothing from those, and we got penalised regularly at the scrum in the last 25 minutes, which ultimately stopped us getting a bonus point.

"But I don't want that to get in the way of some of the really good things and some of the very good performances that there were."

Less than 24 hours after the horrifying Paris terror attacks that left more than 120 dead, it unsurprisingly looked as though the Toulouse players' minds were elsewhere.

They were the only French team in Champions Cup action this weekend, with games scheduled to be hosted by Racing 92, Oyonnax, Bordeaux-Begles and Toulon all postponed by tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby and French domestic rugby chiefs Ligue Nationale de Rugby.

But there was still a game to be won and English champions Saracens - beaten European finalists last year - took immediate charge of Pool One through a dominant display before heading to Belfast next Friday for an appointment with Ulster.

McCall added: "We had six players in our starting pack who are 25 and under and have come through our academy. We are accused of a lot of things sometimes, and sometimes we don't get the credit for those players.

"Hopefully, they are the future of this club for a long time and they mixed it with a very experienced, big pack of forwards."

McCall also praised a strong performance from openside flanker Will Fraser, who is operating at full fitness again following a lengthy injury lay-off.

"Given the fact that Will missed more or less 10 months of rugby before his first Premiership game this season, every game he has got a little bit better," McCall said.

"He went toe to toe with (Thierry) Dusautoir and he was as good as any back-row out there.

"It's slowly but surely with Will. Everyone knows his quality. We have just got to keep him healthy and, fingers crossed, we can do that."

Saracens could also take satisfaction from inflicting a heaviest European Cup defeat on Toulouse since Ulster beat them 30-3 in 2006, with the visitors managing a consolation try from substitute hooker Christopher Tolofua that scrum-half Sebastien Bezy converted.

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Rugby Union
Saracens

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