Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall claimed his side’s dramatic 37-34 Premiership final victory over Exeter Chiefs was made possible by their excellent record in big games.
Sarries added to their victory over Leinster in the European Champions Cup final three weeks earlier in thrilling style, coming from 11 points down midway through the second half to emerge as winners after a match in which McCall admitted they started poorly.
Second-half tries from Liam Williams, Sean Maitland and Jamie George proved decisive for Saracens, who have won the Premiership play-offs five times – more than any other team since the format was introduced in 2002-03.
Saracens have won all of their last seven major finals and McCall said his side’s experience was pivotal, telling BT Sport: “It was a very different game and we were clearly second best in the first half.
“We huffed a bit in the second half and were feeling tired.
“Somehow they found a way not just to get back in the game but play superb rugby in the final 20 minutes.
“Once we got our noses in front we suffocated them and kept them at their end of the field.
“I am incredibly lucky to be part of this club. Without the previous finals I don’t think we could have done what we did today.”
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) June 1, 2019
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter saw his players race into a 22-16 lead before half-time, with Nic White, Dave Ewers and Jonny Hill going over in the first half to give the Chiefs hope.
After a heart-breaking climax to the game, the former Chiefs captain said his next challenge would be to convince his young players that they are edging ever closer to ended Saracens’ dominance despite losing three consecutive finals to them.
“In many ways it was a fanatic game of rugby,” said Baxter. “The one thing we’ll regret is we just didn’t seize those moments of control.
“I can stand here and give you all my thoughts on the game, but there is a reality that we’ve stepped forward considerably form the final last year.
“What I’ve got to do now with this group of players is kind of convince them that if they keep working hard in the right direction that if you can take the comfortable European champions that close then obviously there’s got to be more in Europe for us.
“When you’re finalists three years and lose and you’ve won it once you can’t talk any other way than we’re going to try and win it next year and we’ve got to find a way of powering our way through our European group.
“Those things feel closer to me now, ironically, despite the fact that we’ve lost. They feel closer to me than they did last year because there was nothing in that game that made me think we weren’t able to go toe-to-toe with Saracens.”
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