- Saracens inflict heavy defeat on bottom club Leeds
- Sarries boss Marck McCall praises side as Leeds' Neil Back remains defiant
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Saracens boss Mark McCall praised his side's defence for building the base upon which their commanding 39-0 rout of Leeds was built.
Saracens cemented their place as main challengers to league-leaders and reigning champions Leicester Tigers with a telling victory over the Aviva Premiership's bottom side.
Although their attacking intent was showcased by the scoreline, McCall says defence was the key for Sarries.
"It was important to us to do a very professional job in this game," said McCall
"Our defence was critical, as we discussed all week, and we were determined to take our defence to a new level. A lot of our points and our pressure actually came from our defence, which was as good as I have seen it.
"We're in the middle now of a block of difficult games, three of them away, and we've managed two good wins. But next we go away to Wasps, and then away to Leicester, before getting a mini-break during the LV= Cup semi-finals and final weekend."
Saracens relying on strenth in depth
Saracens are currently relying more and more on their squad strength in depth because of a series of long-term injuries, and McCall paid tribute to flanker Justin Melck, who has come into the side and given two solid performances.
"He is a top-class bloke, in addition to being a very good rugby player. Justin does the basics very well," McCall added.
"He works his socks off and does the hard yards without ever looking for the spotlight. He had a fine game in our win at Northampton, and he was working hard throughout the game against Leeds.
"These players and their hugely professional attitude have made my transition from head coach to director of rugby very straightforward.
"We have a good group here, the backroom staff as well as the players, and when Brendan Venter decided he needed to take his family back to South Africa and become our technical director, I was very pleased with the way the transition took place, in that it doesn't seem to have created any ripples in terms of our performances.
"It was good to see Steve Borthwick back after a month out injured. His experience in the second row and his leadership are very important to us.
"At one point, this season seemed endless, but now that we are focusing totally on the Premiership, we have nine games to go, and I've decided to call them 'projects', because each one will have its own preparations, and it allows the players to focus on each challenge."
Back insists Leeds can retain Premiership status
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Leeds boss Neil Back insisted that their defeat was down to the excellence of Saracens rather than anything to do with the fact that the club parted company with rugby director Andy Key during the week.
"On the back of the news in the week, we had a very good training week," said Back.
"We prepared well, and we looked for an explosive start at Vicarage Road, which is exactly what our opponents achieved.
"It was tough, and we battled hard, but Saracens took their chances well. It's the first time we've been 'nilled', yet I am pleased with the character we showed against a team full of beans and confidence and taking their chances.
"That was the best defensive display I've seen from an opposition all season, which is a tribute to Saracens' coaching team. They were tremendously well-organised. Our guys were sitting in the dressing room, heads down, very disappointed. But they're very together as a squad, very determined to succeed.
"People say our next game, against Newcastle, is now even more important. But it doesn't work that way. Every game we have left is important in our battle to stay in the Premiership."