Saracens face Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park on Sunday, kick-off 15h15. Here Henry Fraser previews this weekend’s visitors.
There have been a tough few games for the Chiefs in recent weeks. They have played the top three teams in the league three weeks in a row now.
They lost by a single point to the current league leaders, Northampton, and pushed third place Bath to the very end.
Exeter are a team who love to keep the ball in hand and will carry for long periods of time to break down defences. Last time Sarries faced the Chiefs, away at Sandy Park, they made a league record for the number of tackles made and Jacques Burger the most tackles made in single match.
This ability to keep the ball in hand and break sides down shows in their try scoring stats. They score two thirds of all their tries in the second half, especially straight after half time. Sarries must be switched on after the break as the Chiefs will come out firing.
They have a big pack that is very mobile. The second rows are almost extra back rowers when it comes to attacking. Damian Welch and the skipper Dean Mumm are both very quick, and if you saw them against Bath at The Rec you would see their ability to finish tries as well. The back row has to be one of the biggest in the league. They are hugely industrious and give the Chiefs a huge impact around the pitch.
The forwards have scored two thirds of all Chiefs’ tries. Seven each for the second rows and the back row.
Gareth Steenson has been the shining light in the Chiefs back line. He is currently the third highest point scorer in the league, mainly through punishing opposition teams ill discipline. He’s kicking at eighty one percent, second best in the league, so Sarries must keep their discipline in check.
It may not be a back line that scores a huge number of tries but they do like to move the ball around. However they do concede most of their tries through the centres, so Sarries will have to keep their potent attack going with the little ball Exeter will allow them.
Sunday’s match will be very tough again especially as Exeter are coming off two losses and wanting to turn their luck around.
23/11/13 Exeter Chiefs 9 – 16 Saracens
16/2/13 Saracens 31 – 11 Exeter Chiefs
23/9/12 Exeter Chiefs 14 – 12 Saracens
Player to watch
Ben White – The openside flanker is a big guy that loves to carry hard and hit hard. He’s joint highest try scorer alongside Dean Mumm with five. If he is anywhere near the line he will pick and go using his size and power to crash over. His is more free style if play works great with the graft of Tom Johnson and hard yard carrying of Dave Ewers.