Owen Farrell backed despite setting unwanted record in Premiership win

Colin Newboult
Saracens' Owen Farrell lines up a conversion against Bristol Bears in the Premiership.

Saracens' Owen Farrell lines up a conversion .

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is confident that Owen Farrell will not repeat the kicking display that almost cost his side on Saturday.

The Londoners emerged 39-31 triumphant over Bristol Bears but it would have been much more comfortable had it not been for the playmaker’s struggles off the tee.

Farrell missed five of his seven conversions and was also off target with a penalty as the England captain was awry with six kicks in a match for the first time in his professional career.

Missed drop-goal

He also had an attempted drop-goal charged down, but that ironically led to a Sarries try as Tom Willis went over to put them in control with 10 minutes remaining.

“That was one of those days. I don’t think we’ll see that again. He was at the heart of the turnaround in the second half,” McCall said.

After a difficult opening to the season, which saw them go down to successive defeats, Saracens have now won five in a row and sit in second place in the Premiership table.

This was not one of their better displays during that run, but the London outfit did enough to claim the all-important victory.

“It was a pretty ordinary first half and a better second half,” McCall added.

“Over the course of the season as much as you want to play at a high level all the time, if you’re able to play better in the second half that’s a good thing.

“We were flat in a number of areas and I don’t know why that was, even now. We were two tries to nil up and then three tries to one, but it didn’t feel as though there was as much energy as there had been the week before.

“I give the players a lot of credit for doing something about it in the second half, which we dominated for long periods. We found a way to win.”

Bristol’s struggles

Sarries condemned Bristol to their fifth defeat of the season, with the West Countrymen currently eighth in the table, nine points behind the play-off places.

Bears director of rugby Pat Lam was not too disheartened, though, and felt that they weren’t too far away from last season’s champions.

“I know we’ve lost the last five but in all the games have shown fight and created opportunities to win, which meant they could easily have gone the other way,” Lam said.

“We only operated on 30 per cent ball in the second half because we were turning the ball over too quickly.

“We had every reason when we had three tries against us to sit back and let them play, but the boys came back and took the lead at half-time. It was neck and neck in the second half.”

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