Saracens head coach Mark McCall said his team were poor for long periods despite making it two wins from two in the Heineken Champions Cup with a 29-10 bonus-point victory over Lyon.
The home side were not at their best but replacement Alex Lewington scored the crucial fourth try to ensure Saracens – even without injured England brothers Billy and Mako Vunipola – took home five points and moved to the top of Pool 3.
Lewington’s effort followed tries from Maro Itoje, Sean Maitland and Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell ended the game with three conversions and a penalty.
McCall said: “We went 10-0 up and it seemed to be the worst thing for us because we were poor for a lot of the match after that for whatever reason.
“It was a scratchy, patchy performance from us but we got the job done. That’s the important thing. We managed to do enough and got the fourth try. I’m not sure if we deserved that at the death.
“You have to play your best rugby at the end and not start of this competition. Today we were quite disappointed with how we played. Lyon fought really hard.
“I was impressed with them and you can see why they’re one of the best Top 14 teams.
“It’s been a really positive start to the season. We’re unbeaten and have played some good rugby, but this was a reminder we have to get better.”
Barritt, who scored his team’s 100th Champions Cup try at the start of the second half, said: “We spoke at half-time and we were a little disappointed.
“In the first half we got some pretty cheap points from turnovers and we weren’t quite producing what we think are the fundamentals of our game.
“The second half was a little bit patchy again, but five points at home means we build into the next round. I don’t think we ever blame fatigue. Sometimes it’s more down to mentality.
“We spoke all week about what we wanted to do on the pitch and we were probably 80 per cent there. It’s a very good Lyon team and we struggled to break them down.
“Their Top 14 position shows they’re difficult to beat. You have to take these wins in the European Cup and we’ll look forward to Cardiff Blues in December now.”
Virgil Lacombe scored Lyon’s try, with Lionel Beauxis adding the conversion and a first-half penalty.
Lyon have now suffered back-to-back Champions Cup defeats and their backs coach Kendrick Lynn admitted it will be difficult for his team to make the competition’s latter stages.
He said: “We lost a lot of ball and we paid the price in the end against a very good team in Saracens.
“We’ll be struggling to make it out of our pool at this rate, but we’ve learned a lot out there and we will grow a lot from this game.
“We’ve got Glasgow home and away next and we’ll look forward to that.”
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