Mar 04, 2018
Saracens miss out on losing bonus at Exeter
Saracens suffered a 24-12 defeat to Exeter Chiefs in a hard-fought contest between the top two at Sandy Park.
Joe Simmonds kicked the hosts into a nine-point before flanker Ben Earl scored on his first Aviva Premiership start to bring Sarries back into contention.
Chiefs full-back Phil Dollman dived over soon after but a Schalk Brits five-pointer meant a close score at the break.
A tight, tense second half followed and Exeter secured victory via a simple kick in front of the posts and a penalty try.
On a fresh afternoon in Devon, with large amounts of snow hugging the pitch perimeter, Exeter got the scoreboard ticking inside two minutes through the boot of Simmonds.
Sarries responded in fine fettle; Alex Goode releasing Chris Wyles on a scamper down the left with a beautifully lofted pass. The visitors moved quickly to find joy on the opposite wing, Nathan Earle showing off his gas before Goode was hounded out by a solid defensive effort.
Another Simmonds’ penalty extended the home side’s advantage to six prior to Wyles having a try chalked off for a foot in touch after collecting a crafty grubber.
It was a move that raised Saracens’ intensity; Earl and George Kruis made strong carries up the middle while the ever-impressive Brits aimed to get involved in possession at any given opportunity.
Chiefs fly-half Simmonds took his tally to nine then Sarries finally opened their account with an excellent score.
Beautiful soft hands from Marcelo Bosch found Earl on a punching line and he rounded Olly Woodburn to slide in under the posts; Ben Spencer adding the extras.
Dollman replied immediately by racing into the corner but with the clock in the red, Brits joined a powerful maul to drop over the line to make it 14-12 to Exeter at half-time.
A physical battle ensued early in the second period; Saracens upping their focus and turning over Chiefs on numerous occasions.
Replacement front row Titi Lamositele’s superb jackal presented Spencer with a long attempt at goal which was unfortunate to drop just under the sticks.
Thereafter, Sarries had to remain patient for a chance with ball in hand, though their terrific line speed and tackling made it difficult for Exeter to gain yards.
Rob Baxter’s side did manage to increase their advantage to five with 16 minutes remaining and when Goode was forced to dot down over his own line, Chiefs dominated at scrum time and earned an automatic seven points.
Sarries pressed for a losing bonus point but came unstuck in their attempts.
15 Phil Dollman; 14 Lachie Turner; 13 Henry Slade; 12 Sam Hill (Whitten 56'); 11 Olly Woodburn; 10 Joe Simmonds (Steenson 75'); 9 Nic White; 1 Ben Moon (Hepburn 30'); 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Yeandle 61'); 3 Tomas Francis (Holmes 61'); 4 Sam Skinner; 5 Jonny Hill; 6 Dave Ewers (Lees 56'); 7 Don Armand; 8 Thomas Waldrom ( S.Simmonds 49')
Replacements ; 16 Jack Yeandle; 17 Alec Hepburn; 18 Greg Holmes; 19 Mitch Lees; 20 Sam Simmonds;21 Stu Townsend; 22 Gareth Steenson;23 Ian Whitten
Tries: Dollman (36'); Penalty try (72')
Penalties: J.Simmonds 4
Saracens 15 Alex Goode; 14 Nathan Earle; 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Brad Barritt (Malins 41'); 11 Chris Wyles (Segun 42');10 Alex Lozowski;9 Ben Spencer (Whiteley 72'); 1 Richard Barrington (Thompson-Stringer 61'); 2 Schalk Brits (Spurling 72'); 3 Juan Figallo (Lamositele 50'); 4 Dominic Day (Cowan 53'); 5 George Kruis: 6 Nick Isiekwe; 7 Ben Earl (Flanagan 78'); 8 Jackson Wray
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling; 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer; 18 Titi Lamositele; 19 Mark Flanagan; 20 Blair Cowan; 21 Tom Whiteley; 22 Max Malins; 23 Rotimi Segun
Tries: Earl (33'); Brits (40')