European Champions Cup
McCall singles out Billy Vunipola for praise
ESPN Staff
January 17, 2015
Billy Vunipola goes on the charge for Saracens against Munster © Getty Images

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall singled out No.8 Billy Vunipola for praise after he put in an outstanding performance in the victory over Munster at Allianz Park.

Saracens took a massive leap towards the Champions Cup quarter-finals after delivering possibly their most complete performance of the season to date. Clermont Auvergne remain favourites to win Pool One but after this victory Sarries are well set to claim one of the three best runners-up slots and advance to the quarter-finals.

Equally, Vunipola took a massive step to claiming the England No.8 jersey that Ben Morgan, who will miss the Six Nations with a broken leg, occupied with distinction for much of the autumn internationals after dispossessing Vunipola.

"Billy was phenomenal today," McCall said. "He was a force of nature in attack and defence, but I thought we had outstanding performances right through the group.

"(Scrum-half) Richard Wigglesworth was magnificent - he set the pace and tone of the match - and Chris Ashton was outstanding - not his two tries, which were good - but some of his kicking game early on allowed us to control things.

"There is a small sense of frustration that we didn't get the fourth try (and bonus point), but I thought it was a really good performance. We are in a position where we go to Clermont, and if we win the match, we win the pool. That is what our intention is going to be."

Defeat leaves Munster all but out of the competition, which will be only the second time in the last 17 European seasons that they have failed to make the last eight and, after suffering consecutive defeats against Clermont in December, it was the first time that the province have suffered three successive European losses.

"It was very disappointing. We didn't turn up at times," Munster head coach Anthony Foley said. "If you look at their scores, they probably started with a big error by us.

"We didn't fire a shot, particularly early on in such an important game for us with the tournament on the line. With a result like that, we don't get out of our group. We need to address a few things and make sure that we turn up next weekend (against Sale) and put in a performance.

"We were dropping passes, we were passing the ball to fresh air. There is a lot of character in the team and a lot of good players. It is just unfortunate that we played like we did today."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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