Classy Saracens back on top

Date published: March 26 2016

Saracens returned to the Premiership summit on Saturday as they eased past top-of-the-table rivals Exeter Chiefs 36-18 at Allianz Park.

Tries from Alex Goode and Billy Vunipola gave Sarries a 12-point buffer, but two Gareth Steenson penalties reduced that deficit to 12-6 at the interval.

However, the hosts dominated the second period and touched down three more times through Owen Farrell, Jackson Wray and Chris Wyles.

Thomas Waldrom did continue his impressive scoring record by crossing the whitewash twice for the Chiefs, but they were outplayed by the London-based side.

Rob Baxter's men have had an excellent campaign, but they endured a difficult first half which saw them struggle to compete with the physicality of the defending English champions.

The visitors played with the wind behind them in the first half but struggled to gain foothold on proceedings. Instead, Saracens, who could name their England players in the starting line-up for the first time in eight weeks, looked threatening in difficult conditions.

Mark McCall's team deserved the 12-0 lead they acquired in the opening half-hour. Goode went over for the first try, as the full-back benefited from excellent work by Duncan Taylor and Maro Itoje, before Vunipola barged his way across the whitewash.

Exeter did manage to muster a response just shy of the break via the boot of Steenson, who kicked a pair of three-pointers, but Sarries were in control at half-time.

They continued in the same vein after the interval and stretched their advantage via a brilliant try, finished off by Farrell.

The Chiefs gave themselves hope when Waldrom went over but another superb attack, which went through several pairs of hands, allowed Wray to touch down for the bonus-point.

Farrell then kicked a penalty before Wyles crossed the line to complete a fine win, although the visitors had the final word through Waldrom's second score.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Goode, B Vunipola, Farrell, Wray, Wyles
Con: Farrell 3, Goode
Pen: Farrell

For Exeter:
Tries: Waldrom 2
Con: Hooley
Pen: Steenson 2

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Duncan Taylor, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 George Kruis, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Mike Ellery

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Max Bodilly

Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Paul Dix
TMO: David Grashoff