Nov 29, 2014

Saracens were beaten by Exeter Chiefs 27-19 at a foggy Sandy Park, with the Devonshire sides outside half Gareth Steenson producing a place-kicking master class on Saturday afternoon.

Former Rotherham No.10 Steenson , was in fine fettle from the kicking tee for the Chiefs, kicking all of his sides 29 points with nine penalties, as Saracens were beaten in the round 9 Premiership fixture.

The first-half was littered with too many errors for Saracens. Handling was poor, with countless knock-ons throughout a turgid 40 minutes of which little rugby was played from either side.

With both steams content on kicking the ball as often as they could, it was the home side who continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over with the metronomic Gareth Steenson knocking over six from six attempts, in impressive first half display of place kicking.

Charlie Hodgson added two penalties in the first half, but the visitor’s poor handling let them down in all areas of the field.

The first penalty after Saracens, under their own posts after two impressive carries from the Chiefs’ Thomas Waldrom and Dave Ewers, were penalised at the breakdown. Steenson made no mistake to give the hosts the lead after four minutes.

Saracens responded as Hodgson landed a superb kick from the Western touchline, after some clever work from Will Fraser earned his side a penalty.

In this cat and mouse contenst, the Chiefs responded with another Steenson three pointer after Alistair Hargreaves picked up the ball in an offside position. Minutes later Hodgson responded with his second of the afternoon to level up the scores after 20 minutes.

Mark McCall’s side though were on the end of some questionable decisions at the set-piece, with Referee Mr Greg Garner taking a particularly dim view of James Johnston and the Saracens front-row at scrum-time.

With penalties aplenty for the Chiefs, their dead-eyed goal kicker Steenson continued to keep the scoreboard rolling over, with two quick fire penalties to extend his sides lead to 15-6.

With minutes left, James Johnston was sin-binned for repeated infringements at the scrum, with the Chiefs camped out on the Sarries try line. From the resulting penalty Steenson sent over his sixth of the afternoon, as the hosts went into the break with an 18-6 lead.

Saracens returned from their changing room with an added sense of urgency, and immediately reduced the home sides lead after Charlie Hodgson nudged over 41st minute penalty kick.

Saracens though again conceded a penalty, and the Chiefs Irish outside half took his and his sides points tally to 21.

Hodgson though responded with another well-taken kick to take his side into the double figures, and minutes later saw a long range effort bounce wide off the posts, much to the delight of the fervent Devonshire home faithful.

The Chiefs again responded with three points of their own as they went into the final ten minutes with a healthy 12 point lead. Exeter looked to have scored when Jack Nowell crossed after a Henry Slade break, but the winger fumbled the ball with the line at his mercy.

Steenson added another penalty as the fog began to roll in from the Devonshire countryside, before Maro Itoje scored a well taken try in the final seconds, which Ben Spencer converted.


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