Exeter squeeze past Sarries

Date published: May 10 2015

Exeter secured a hard-fought 24-20 victory over Saracens thanks to a late Thomas Waldrom try at Allianz Park on Sunday.

The Chiefs moved into the Premiership play-off places, and above Sarries on points difference, thanks to the win.

The opening half proved to be a tight but exciting affair as the teams went into the break level. Sarries' points came through Chris Ashton and Chris Wyles tries and a Charlie Hodgson penalty, while the Chiefs responded via Luke Cowan-Dickie and Waldrom touchdowns and a Gareth Steenson three-pointer.

In contrast to the first 40, the second period struggled to match those heights as Sarries edged ahead through Owen Farrell's effort off the tee.

But it was the Chiefs' day as Waldrom crossed for yet another score to go above the London-based side in the league table.

Exeter have enjoyed an outstanding season but, if they wanted to reach the play-offs, Rob Baxter's men required a positive result at Allianz Park.

With the wind in their favour they started well enough, opening the scoring through a Steenson penalty, but the hosts hit back with a superbly worked try.

Hooker Jamie George spotted a gaping hole in the visiting rearguard and surged 20 metres before passing to Marcelo Bosch who found the arch-poacher Ashton.

However, the West Country outfit regained their advantage when a period of pressure close to the opposition line ended in Cowan-Dickie crossing the whitewash.

In a see-saw encounter, Saracens went back ahead through Wyles after the centre latched onto a majestic off-load from David Strettle.

That wasn't the end to the scoring in the first period as Waldrom touched down to take Exeter 17-14 ahead, but Hodgson levelled matters on the stroke of half-time with an effort off the tee.

The start to the second 40 minutes saw the encounter become far edgier with the sides choosing to kick rather than run. It meant neither outfit could gain a proper foothold, although it was the hosts who looked far likelier to make something happen.

And they duly won a penalty 10 metres out after Cowan-Dickie was pinged for hands in the ruck, which replacement Farrell duly converted.

Back came the Chiefs and, despite becoming surprisingly conservative in the second half, they managed to get the winning score through Waldrom in the 70th minute.

The scorers:

For Saracens:

Tries: Ashton, Wyles
Cons: Hodgson 2
Pens: Hodgson, Farrell

For Exeter:

Tries: Cowan-Dickie, Waldrom 2
Cons: Steenson 3
Pen: Steenson

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth (c), 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 George Kruis, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 James Johnston, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Nick Tompkins

Exeter: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Mitch Lees, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 23 Max Bodilly

Referee: JP Doyle