Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall refused to be too disheartened despite his team losing their European Challenge Cup opener to Edinburgh on Saturday.

Sarries narrowly went down 21-18 in a Pool C match played in relentless rain at a soggy StoneX Stadium.

But the Hendon-based club, three-times Heineken Champions Cup winners, did send out a more youthful XV against the Scots, who have only lost once in the United Rugby Championship this term.

Both Alex Goode and Andy Christie did manage to score tries in the first 40 but, in the end, it wasn’t enough for McCall’s team to mark their return to Europe with a victory.

WP Nel’s try with just 14 minutes to play proved the difference, with Eroni Mawi in the sin-bin at the time.

England’s Billy Vunipola and his cousin, hooker Kapeli Pifeleti, also both went off injured in the opening half but the Sarries boss did take some positives from a difficult day.

“We had a mix of some senior players and some younger ones and all of them did really well,” explained McCall. “I’m pleased with some aspects but disappointed to lose the game.

“We worked very hard for our couple of tries in the first half and they didn’t have to work all that hard for their points.

“They had three penalties from the halfway line from scrum penalties and a first-phase try that was well taken by them and badly defended by us.

“We worked really hard for our points and had the better chances, more opportunities close to their line than they had close to ours.

“Conditions dictated the game and I thought there were things to be encouraged by.”

Despite a tricky fixture with a much-changed team it still took a late TMO decision to deny Saracens the win.

A number of players drove over the line at the death, but consultation with the television official saw play brought back due to an earlier infringement.

Even in defeat the Saracens still took a losing bonus point, with three pool games still to come against Pau, Brive and fellow Gallagher Premiership side London Irish.