Rugby Union

Saracens coach Mark McCall was delighted with his side's 'brilliant' performance.

Saracens coach Mark McCall lauds returning England stars after Exeter win

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Mark McCall hailed his returning England Grand Slam heroes as Saracens made a major statement of Aviva Premiership title intent by crushing Exeter 36-18 at Allianz Park.

Saracens reclaimed top spot from the Chiefs, with England stars Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola among their try-scorers just a week after the Red Rose completed an RBS 6 Nations clean sweep by beating France in Paris.

"It says a bit about Owen, having not played at 10 for eight or nine weeks, to produce that kind of performance, and that goes for all of our international players," Saracens head coach McCall said.

"To win a Grand Slam and the high of that, and then to turn in the performance that they all did today says something about them."

England head coach Eddie Jones looked on at Allianz Park, with a third of his Grand Slam-winning team - Farrell, Vunipola, his brother Mako, Maro Itoje and George Kruis - all starting.

Full-back Alex Goode, flanker Jackson Wray and wing Chris Wyles also touched down for Saracens, while Farrell kicked three conversions and a penalty, with Goode adding the extras to Wyles' 75th-minute effort.

Exeter - whose points came from number eight Thomas Waldrom's ninth and 10th league tries of the season, two Gareth Steenson penalties and a late Will Hooley conversion - were outgunned in every key area by a Farrell-inspired home team.

McCall added: "I thought we were really good today. Playing into that strong wind in the first half, it was kind of as good as it gets.

"I thought we scored a couple of great tries in the first half, and should have scored a couple more. Overall, it was a brilliant performance."

Asked about comments by Saracens chairman Nigel Wray that Premiership games should not be scheduled on international weekends - as was the case throughout this season's Six Nations and for part of the World Cup - McCall said: "That was Billy Vunipola's fifth game in the Premiership this season.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to not have those players for almost two-thirds of the season, but it is what it is.

"Maybe a summer off at some point in time for these people might be the sensible thing to do, but I am sure that is not going to happen.

"Billy had an outstanding tournament, and he was magnificent out there today, not just with the ball.

"Billy has always been consistent for us. I think the England management did a good job with him. They gave him responsibility and told him he was going to be the main man, and Billy has responded to that."

Saracens, building strongly towards a successful Premiership title defence and a major assault on the knockout phase of this season's European Champions Cup, were irresistible at times, mixing and matching their game superbly.

And on this latest evidence, a European and Premiership double looks a realistic aim, even though it will require a monumental effort from them during the next two months.

And Exeter head coach Rob Baxter certainly had no complaints about the outcome after the Chiefs struggled to make an impact, especially during the first half.

"We had the elements with us in the first half, and we needed to capitalise on that, but we didn't at all," Baxter said.

"We lost ball too easily, and we didn't really get through any kind of phase-play and we didn't exert too much pressure. Ultimately, we paid the price because we weren't able to keep a very good Saracens side under any kind of pressure.

"I thought Saracens were good. On the day, we have been outplayed. I can run around and try to find all kinds of reasons and excuses, but our big issue in the first half was getting beaten on the gain-line in attack and defence.

"At times, we did some good stuff in the second half, but once Saracens were comfortable, some of the off-loads in and around the tackle area were very good and gave them huge momentum.

"The easiest way for me to wrap it up is to remind the players of the bigger picture.

"We came here almost exactly a year ago and won, and Saracens won the Premiership. Individual games between top-four sides don't always carry the weight that they feel they do at this time of year."

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Rugby Union

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