May 11, 2015
Saracens vs Exeter - Match Review
Saracens were left to rue a lack of clinical edge in the defeat to Exeter Chiefs on Sunday afternoon. The Devon side beat Mark McCall’s team 24-20 in a pulsating contest in north London.
Despite the disappointment of losing to the play-off chasing Chiefs, there were some notable performances in defeat. We take a look at some of them.
Mako. Take a bow.
Has Mako Vunipola ever had a poor game in a Saracens shirt? We can’t remember one. The England loosehead’s consistent brilliance in the Sarries No1 jersey was highlighted in a stunning display of work-rate and endeavour on Sunday.
Mako made an astonishing 20 tackles. Yes 20 tackles! An amazing stat for a front-row forward. His work at the scrum has been a good as it ever has been, and Vunipola made the most carries out of any of teammates, with 10. Mako really put his hand up on Sunday.
The record books will say this was Chris Wyles’ try. Rightly so, the American wing showed great pace to outrun Henry Slade and the covering Exeter full-back Byron McGuigan to dot down his 13th try of a superb individual season. Yet it was the audacious offload of left wing David Strettle in the build-up that left the 9,000+ Sarries support in awe.
It was a classic counter attacking try. After Maro Itoje did brilliantly to turnover a dangerous Exeter attack Saracens spread the ball out to the fleet footed Strettle. The Chiefs defence covered well, and as opposite wing Ian Whitten looked to bundle Strettle into touch, the Saracens wing offloaded brilliantly to find Wyles. A moment of magic.
Back three brilliance
Alex Goode, Chris Ashton and David Strettle performances in the Saracens back-three have been a constant source of good news this season. Once again the Sarries triumvirate were on song in what would prove to be a disappointing defeat to Exeter.
Between them, Messrs Ashton, Goode and Strettle made an astonishing 384.6 metres. Strettle beat six defenders averaging 16 metres per carry, whilst Alex Goode wreaked havoc in the Chiefs ranks - the elegant No15 made 184 metres during the game beating nine defenders. On the right wing, Chris Ashton’s first-half score was classic Ashton.
Hunting down the chance, he was on hand for Marcelo Bosch’ offload after Jamie George’s killer break.
The three England internationals lit up the contest from start to finish.
Saracens must dust themselves down
There’s no escaping the fact that Sunday’s defeat was a bump in the road heading into the Aviva Premiership play-offs. This means Saracens travel to basement club London Welsh with it all to play for as the race for the Premiership top four reaches fever pitch.
With fourth placed Exeter Chiefs hosting Sale Sharks, and play-off veterans Leicester Tigers welcoming local rivals Northampton Saints the make-up of the final four will remain unclear until ‘Super Saturday’ is over. “We’ve got to plan and prepare to beat London Welsh, and beat them by four tries and to make it a bigger margin as we can,” said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall in the wake of Sunday’s defeat.
His team’s task is clear.