Saracens too good for Chiefs

Date published: September 11 2016

Saracens put in a complete performance against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Sunday, running out 34-13 winners in the Premiership.

Alex Lozowski raced Saracens into an early lead with a fourth minute try, with Sean Maitland grabbing the second of the afternoon and his first for the club.

Henry Slade slotted two penalties through either side of a Richard Wigglesworth yellow card, as Chiefs worked their way back into the game.

Maitland went over again following the break, with Jackson Wray sealing the bonus point.

Luke Cowan-Dickie gave the hosts hope with a try late in the second-half, but Ben Spencer went over at the death for a 34-13 win.

In a repeat of last season's Premiership final, Exeter looked to record their first victory of the season against a Saracens side who followed up last year's victory with opening day success against Worcester Warriors.

The reigning victors had an early opportunity to go three points ahead, but Marcelo Bosch dragged his penalty wide of the sticks.

It was a rampant start by the visitors though, and their early dominance produced the opening try. After Will Chudley was forced to take the ball into touch, Saracens broke from the line-out in the form of Lozowski. His quick thinking saw him evade challenges, crossing the line and allowing Alex Goode to add the extras.

Chiefs' Slade missed his first kick at the posts soon after the opening try, and it was the turn of Saracens again to foray forward. Their second try came 20 minutes in following a catch and drive. Jamie George went close, but Maitland was the man to go through for his first Saracens try.

Goode missed the conversion but Exeter, who had lost only one home game since January 2015 (that defeat against Saracens), were in real trouble.

They began to recover though, and looked like they had reduced the arrears. A huge mass of bodies piled towards the try line, with the hosts thinking they'd edged the ball over. The TMO ruled otherwise, but Slade did put three points through to cut the gap to nine.

Chiefs' fortunes began to turn with that spell of pressure, and Saracens lost Wigglesworth after the referee deemed he had tripped Slade. The Exeter kicker duly sent another penalty safely through, with Wigglesworth sitting out the remainder of the first half.

Exeter could and maybe should have troubled the scoreboard more, but some poor handling in the final minutes spoilt promising forward opportunities.

Handling wasn't the issue for Lachie Turner however. His issue came in the form of Lozowski, who threw himself into a vital try-saving tackle to deny Chiefs the chance to snatch the lead, with Saracens taking a 12-6 lead into the break.

Mako Vunipola almost extended the advantage after half-time, grounding the ball over the line. He was challenged out of play at the crucial time though, the hosts defending strongly to stay within touching distance.

They couldn't do anything about Goode though, who sent through a three pointer to make it a nine-point gap. And that only got bigger. Maitland went over for his second after being left in space on the left hand side, but it came after Saracens teased the hosts with constant pressure near the line. Goode and Lozowski showed quick hands, with Goode putting two more points through as Mark McCall's men looked well set for victory.

If there was any question about the outcome though, Wray answered it. He demonstrated excellent handling to keep in control on the right flank, before holding off a challenge and going through inside the corner.

But Exeter did get themselves a try with 10 to play. It took time coming thanks to persistent Saracens defending, but Cowan-Dickie powered himself narrowly over to condemn the visitors to their first try against this season. Gareth Steenson sent through the conversion, but a 14-point gap looked far too big to turn around.

And that proved the case, with Spencer stealing possession as the clock went past 80 minutes and racing unchallenged under the posts, the added two sealing a 34-13 win.

The scorers:

For Exeter:
Try: Cowan-Dickie
Con: Steenson
Pens: Slade 2

For Saracens:
Tries: Lozowski, Maitland 2, Wray, Spencer
Cons: Goode 3
Pen: Goode
Yellow Card: Wigglesworth (32 mins)

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Geoff Parling (c), 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Max Bodilly

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Kelly Brown, 20 Michael Rhodes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Mike Ellery

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Philip Watters, Paul Burton
TMO: Geoffrey Warren