Nov 25, 2017
Storm outmuscled as they fall to Braves defeat
Saracens Storm were defeated by Exeter Braves 41-23 at Allianz Park in an entertaining afternoon of Premiership A League action.
The Braves clinical edge in the Storm’s 22 was too much for Adam Powell’s young side, as front-row trio Vea Taione and Dan Frost and Marcus Street shared six tries between each other with close-range efforts before replacement wing Charlie Davis landed the final blow for the Devonians in the 77th minute.
Storm skipper Tom Whiteley stood-out for the hosts in defeat, scoring a fine first-half try and creating his side’s third of the afternoon for replacement Conor Hayhow after Tadgh McElroy burrowed over for the Storm’s second of the day.
The day though belonged to Exeter, and their hooker Vea Taione who crossed for a first-half hat-trick, all from close-range.
It was the Storm who edged in front in the contest. Tom Whiteley sending over a penalty after seven minutes play with the Storm impressing in the opening exchanges.
After a Braves foray into the Storm half, full-back Matt Gallagher ‘marked’ an ‘up-and-under’ and with the Braves flat-footed he quick-tapped and raced past the front-line cover. The in-form youngster found the supporting Whiteley who rounded the Braves cover defence to score in the corner. It was fine score with two of the Storm’s best performers combing beautifully.
Saracens’ blistering start would soon fade away as the Chiefs patient and methodical approach to the game grinding the Storm into submission. With England bolter Jack Maunder controlling a pack of forwards that included the returning Dave Ewers and the experienced Carl Rimmer and Ollie Atkins in their starting pack.
Vea Taione crossed for his first of his three first-half tries after 18 minutes, waltzing his way through the Storm defence that disintegrated after a 5m driving maul. Minutes later, the Tongan international doubled his tally from a pick and go out wide and five minutes before the break, he sealed his hat-trick with yet another close-range score.
On the stroke of half-time, the Storm received a hammer blow to their chances when tighthead Marcus Street followed Taione’s lead with a close-range effort of his own.
After the break, Whiteley landed a penalty goal to cut the Braves lead to 11-points, but it wasn’t long for the Braves to re-establish their superiority when Street barged his way over for his second and Exeter’s fifth of the afternoon.
The Storm rallied. Backs Rotimi Segun and Ali Crossdale continued to plug away when they were fed the ball, with right winger Crossdale dangerous throughout his 65 minutes on the pitch. After Crossdale broke the Braves line, Sarries won a penalty and elected to kick for touch and it was Tadgh McElroy, now back playing in his familiar hooker position after an hour in the back-row, who burrowed over to score.
Frustratingly for Saracens, for every shot fired the Braves had the perfect riposte. Replacement hooker Dan Frost emulated Taione’s free-scoring performance with an effort of his own.
With only pride to play for the Storm continued to plug away. Captain Tom Whiteley produced a moment of magic in the 74th minute as he weaved through the Braves defence to send over replacement Conor Hayhow to score.
Fittingly it was the visitors who would have the final say, when replacement Charlie Davis rounded the Sarries cover to score with three minutes left on the clock.
Final Score: Saracens Storm 23 Exeter Chiefs 41
Saracens Storm: 15 Matt Gallagher; 14 Ali Crossdale (Joe Luca-Smith 65’), 13 Oli Morris (Elliot Obatiyinbo 60’), 12 Rueben Bird-Tulloch, 11 Rotimi Segun; 10 Tom Whiteley (c), 9 Al Gliksten; 1 Titi Lamositele (Fakaosi Pifeleti 52’), 2 Scott Spurling (Conor Hayhow 60’), 3 Kieran Longbottom (Billy Walker 52’); 4 Danny Cutmore, 5 Jack Nay; 6 Tadgh McElroy, 7 Sean Reffell, 8 Andy Christie (27’ John Kpoku).
Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti (Saracens U18), 17 Ralph Adams-Hale, 18 Billy Walker, 19 John Kpoku (Saracens U18), 20 Fakaosi Pifeleti , 21 Conor Hayhow (Guest - London Scottish), 22 Joe Luca Smith (Guest - London Scottish), 23 Elliot Obatiyinbo
Tries: Whiteley, McElroy, Hayhow
Penalties: Whiteley 2/2