Saracens recovered from a strong Exeter start to overcome the Chiefs 23-10 in their Aviva Premiership clash at Allianz Park on Sunday.
Saracens recovered from a strong Exeter start to overcome the Chiefs 23-10 at Allianz Park on Sunday.
Chiefs centre Ian Whitten went over for the visitors in the early stages, before James Johnston levelled it up just before the break.
Schalk Brits scored the only try of the second-half, as the hosts strolled to victory in blustery conditions at Allianz Park.
The visitors started brightly, and were quick to put Sarries on the back foot. In the tenth minute they got the score that their good play merited. Clever interplay led to Irish centre Whitten touching down in the corner. Gareth Steenson converted to make it 0-7.
The home side looked bereft of ideas in the first 20 minutes, and Charlie Hodgson's wayward attempt from 54 metres summed that up.
A sharp burst a few moments later from Joel Tomkins almost put American full-back, Chris Wyles, in, but he was put in to touch. That swung the momentum back in the hosts favour, though.
Hodgson's pin-point kicks were forcing the Chiefs back deep inside their 22. But for some poor handling from Chris Ashton, Saracens could have scored either side of the half-hour mark, after fashioning good openings.
They finally scored in the 34th minute when Johnston stepped out of a tackle to powerfully force his way over. Charlie Hodgson comfortably converted the try to make it 7-7 going in to the break.
Steenson briefly put the Chiefs back in front at 7-10 with a penalty just after half-time. Two minutes later, though, Sarries made a fantastic drive forwards with a 10-man charging maul, and eventually Brits went over with the ball. Hodgson converted to make it 14-10.
Exeter's number eight, Dave Ewers, then made a huge hit on Mouritz Botha, which led to a lengthy delay while the medical team tended to the stricken lock.
That delay took the sting out the game, and Saracens took control of the game without having to move out of second gear.
Hodgson kicked another couple of penalties just before the hour mark to make it 20-10 to the home side.
With ten minutes remaining Saracens were reduced to fourteen men as Jacques Burger was put in the sin-bin for a high tackle.
Hodgson kicked another penalty with three minutes remaining to make the final score 23-10 as Saracens wrapped up a solid, if unspectacular victory.
Tries: Johnston, Brits
Con: Hodgson 2
Pen: Hodgson 2
Yellow: Burger (70 mins)
Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert (c), 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 George Kruis, 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Steve Borthwick, 20 Jacques Burger, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Tim Streather.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Don Armand, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jason Shoemark.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Paul Burton (both Eng)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (Eng)