Rugby Union

Mark McCall hails impact of sub Billy Vunipola following Saracens' win

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Saracens' director of rugby Mark McCall admitted his side's 38-3 win at Newcastle was not always great entertainment but highlighted the impact made by substitute Billy Vunipola.

The reigning Aviva Premiership champions scored three late tries to turn a turgid, kicking-dominated match into a bonus-point victory which takes them back to the top of the table and maintains their unbeaten record this season.

Number eight Vunipola, who entered the fray in the 56th minute, got the all-important fourth try in front of the watching England head coach Eddie Jones.

"It wasn't the most attractive of games," McCall said. "Newcastle came with a kicking plan and I was pleased with the patience and energy we showed and we stayed with it until the end and proved it's very important to be able to bring impact players like Billy (Vunipola) off the bench."

Jones was at Kingston Park running the rule over several potential members of his first Six Nations squad, but with the ball being kicked from hand 84 times it spent almost as much time in the air as in players' hands.

The star man of the frustrating clash was veteran Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson, who chipped in with a 21-point haul that included four penalties and a late breakaway try.

Both McCall and his Newcastle counterpart Dean Richards said afterwards they had not spoken to Jones. "I didn't even know he was here," McCall added.

Richards felt that, despite the defeat, there are a number of Falcons players who are worthy of international recognition.

"I've not spoken to Eddie Jones, but I would have thought a lot of our guys should be in with a shout for England in the future, especially our hooker George McGuigan - he has come on leaps and bounds."

Richards added: "It was 13-3 at half-time after we gifted them a try and when it was 23-3 we started to push and made mistakes and conceded those two late tries.

"We started to chase the game and that fell right into their hands. They have a huge kicking game and they are very accurate in what they do. It enables them to sit back and wait and in the end their accuracy was far greater than ours."

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