MATCH REPORT | Saracens Men 35-3 Exeter Chiefs
A wet weather masterclass ensured it would be a successful ending to 2022, as Saracens Men dominated Exeter Chiefs to record a 35-3 victory at StoneX Stadium.
The Men in Black were in control from start to finish and had their physical edge all the way through which proved to be the difference as they got back to winning ways in the Gallagher Premiership.
They scored five tries to ensure they left with maximum points and reinstated their 10-point lead at the top of the table.
Sarries started brightly and showed signs that they were well and truly back in the groove. Elliot Daly’s perfect kick in behind saw Olly Woodburn smashed in to touch, and then the first chance came with a two on one but Max Malins’ pass to Sean Maitland didn’t quite go to hand.
The next chance was taken though, as Mako Vunipola tapped a penalty from five metres out and a brilliant pass out the back allowed Andy Christie to hammer over from close range. Owen Farrell’s conversion gave his side a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes played.
Both sides were struggling to string phases together in the blustery conditions, and Exeter then carved out a couple of chances as they grew in to the game.
Jack Nowell went on a mazy run which ended just inside the 22 as Maitland brought him down, and then just minutes later they had a five metre lineout but it wasn’t straight and Sarries cleared.
They were however rewarded for their next attack as a penalty from Joe Simmonds cut the lead to 7-3 with 20 minutes on the clock.
Sarries hit back almost immediately with their second try of the match in brilliant style. Billy Vunipola’s excellent take from a high ball put the hosts in the 22, and Farrell’s sumptuous grubber bounced up perfectly for Maitland who finished well in the corner. The conversion went wide but the Londoners now had a nine point advantage.
Then came a crucial moment with the final play of the half as Marco Riccioni scored Saracens’ third to give themselves serious breathing space at the break. A penalty was kicked to the corner, and then a lovely move off the back of the lineout sent the Italian crashing over from close range. Farrell’s conversion gave the hosts a 19-3 lead as they headed back down the tunnel.
The lead grew further just four minutes after the restart, a string of penalties gave Farrell an easy three points from the tee to edge the hosts 19 points ahead.
He made no mistake with another penalty five minutes later, and all of a sudden Sarries held a 25-3 lead as they chased down the try bonus point.
Ben Earl then came on to become the latest Saracens centurion, and it was almost instantly marked with the bonus point when Maitland gathered Alex Goode’s grubber but he was acrobatically in touch before he dotted down.
The chances kept coming and the next was for Nick Tompkins whose barnstorming run took play over half way and in to the 22, but an infringement at the breakdown stopped the momentum.
It finally arrived after huge persistence with just eight minutes remaining with a moment of sheer brilliance from captain Farrell. He was standing deep from a scrum and an outrageous pass round the back cut out two defenders and set Alex Lewington free to score in the corner.
Tompkins then sealed the deal with a maul try in the 80th minute to add a cherry on top of a very satisfying cake for the hosts. That confirmed the five points for Mark McCall’s men who head in to 2023 with a huge spring in their step.