May 20, 2017
REPORT: Saracens Out after Tightly Contested Exeter Clash
Saracens were defeated 18-16 in the Premiership semi-final against Exeter at Sandy Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Defending 2016 Champions took the lead in the early stages through two kicks from captain for the day Owen Farrell. These were replied to by the Chiefs’ Gareth Steenson to leave the half-time score at a tight 6-6.
Exeter came out strongly in the second-half with a try from Jack Nowell which kept them ahead before Chris Wyles brought Saracens back within close proximity to Exeter. Mike Ellery scored the Men in Black’s second to bring them ahead in the final stages.
Despite this, a trademark kick and drive lineout maul from the defeated 2016 finalists showed their desire to make the final as Sam Simmonds scored a late try and send the Devon side through to the final.
Sarries scored the first points of the match in the fifth minute, as some superb counter rucking from Maro Itoje earned Farrell the chance to slot home the first points of the game from 45 metres out to give the visitors a 0-3 lead.
The Men in Black were served with a double blow after 10 minutes as Mike Rhodes and Chris Ashton were both forced off the field through injury. Ashton tried to carry on but was eventually replaced by Ellery with Schalk Burger replacing Rhodes.
Three minutes later, Farrell doubled Saracens’ lead with a penalty after the Chiefs were penalised at the scrum. Steenson hit back for Exeter with two quick-fire penalty kicks in the 26th and 29th minutes.
In the latter stages of the first-half, the hosts pushed Sarries hard. but the defending champions held firm. A try-saving tackle from Richard Wigglesworth on Jack Nowell a particular highlight; this helped ensure the sides went in level at 6-6.
The home side scored the first try of the match in the 42nd minute a quick break led to a quickly moved ball to Nowell who scored in the corner. Steenson slotted the conversion to make the score 13-6.
Saracens hit back in the 56th minute with a try from winger Wyles; a burst forward from Maro Itoje after a classy move set up Wyles to score in the corner beyond the attentions of the last-gasp Exeter tackles. A missed conversion left the score at 13-11.
In the 75th minute, Ellery scored a remarkable try. A penalty won deep in the men in Black’s ’22 was kicked to half-way before the line-out took the ball up into the Exeter half.
The phases built up before Schalk Brits produced a brilliant pass out wide to substitute Ellery who surged towards the line and was able to hurdle the last man with a brilliant piece of control and touch down.
However, Exeter scored a try at the death to win the game. Henry Slade’s monster penalty kick up-field won a lineout deep in the Sarries half which triggered a trademark maul touched down by Sam Simmonds to win the game for Exeter 18-16.
15 Alex Goode; 14 Chris Ashton(Ellery 11); 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Duncan Taylor;11 Chris Wyles; 10 Owen Farrell (c);9 Richard Wigglesworth; 1 Mako Vunipola( Lamositele 42-47). 2 Jamie George( Brits 45); 3 Vincent Koch;4 Maro Itoje; 5 George Kruis; 6 Michael Rhodes(Burger 11);7 Jackson Wray;8 Billy Vunipola:
Scores Tries Wyles(57);Ellery(76):
6 Kai Horstmann( Lees (60); 7 Don Armand; 8 Thomas Waldrom(Simmonds 68):
21 Will Chudley; 22 Henry Slade;23 Michele Campagnaro:
Scores Tries Nowell((43);Simmonds(80):