Premiership: Saracens 40-17 Exeter Chiefs – Leaders’ seven-game winning run ends

Saracens' Elliott Obatoyinbo scores a spectaculat try against Exeter
Saracens (15) 40
Tries: Segun, Morris, Obatoyinbo, Venter, Boon Cons: Vunipola 3 Pens: Vunipola 3
Exeter Chiefs (5) 17
Tries: Cordero, Witty, Dennis Con: Skinner

A second-string Saracens side handed a youthful Exeter Chiefs their first defeat in eight games.

Rotimi Segun and Dom Morris tries put Sarries 15-5 up at the break, with Facundo Cordero going over for Chiefs.

Will Witty grabbed a second try for Premiership leaders Exeter either side of two Manu Vunipola penalties for already relegated Saracens.

Elliott Obatoyinbo, Janco Venter and Cameron Boon all touched down to secure a bonus-point win.

Chiefs, while well beaten, kept the game going into the 83rd minute with Dave Dennis coming up with a late consolation effort.

With European Champions Cup quarter-final ties to come in a week’s time for both clubs at opposite ends of the Premiership table, squad selections reflected where each team’s immediate priorities are focused.

Just three players who featured in last year’s Premiership final were named in the respective matchday squads.

Exeter, who had secured a Premiership play-off spot a week earlier, had Don Armand lead them out as captain, while second row Dennis was also there when Chiefs were beaten to the league crown last term.

Saracens, a side long consigned to relegation to the Championship after being hit with a points deduction for salary cap breaches, had only Tom Woolstencroft on the bench from the side that lifted the title in the summer of 2019.

A powerful showing from Saracens’ forwards set the hosts up for the ideal start, building pressure inside the 22 before Vunipola sent Segun over in the corner with a looped pass.

Cordero, however, was quick to make his mark for Chiefs with a try 11 minutes into his debut after quick hands from Phil Dollman found the Argentine ready to pounce.

Vunipola landed the first successful kick of the afternoon to edge the Londoners ahead in the 34th minute, having twice hit the post with kicks earlier in the game, and Morris was on the end of a Juan Pablo Socino pass to help make it a 10-point lead with the last play of the first half.

A second Vunipola penalty saw the advantage increase immediately after the break, only for Witty to go over after Sarries had resisted a succession of driving mauls.

But that is as close as the Chiefs would come to pegging the fallen champions back, as a fine cross-kick from Vunipola, who had added a third penalty moments before, was collected by Obatoyinbo to score spectacularly out wide.

The ultimately comprehensive win for Saracens, in a game between two weakened sides, was put well beyond Exeter’s reach when Venter, making his first start for the home side, touched down for a pushover try and Boon grabbed his first try for the club.

Saracens boss Mark McCall:

“We’re thrilled because that was a big achievement for a very young group. Most of them who played against Exeter also played on Wednesday night.

“They brought a lot of energy and togetherness despite having played only four days ago.

“Exeter were also a young side but they didn’t play on Wednesday.”

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter (on injured Stuart Hogg):

“Stuart should be fine. He was running yesterday (Saturday) before we left Exeter.

“It wasn’t flat out but the fact he’s running already means he should be running by Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Saracens: Hooley; Segun, Morris, Sloan, Obatoyinbo; Manu Vunipola, Whiteley; Crean, Pifeleti, Clarey, Kpoku, Hunter-Hill, Clark (capt), Reffell, Venter.

Replacements: Woolstencroft, Hislop, Ibuanokpe, Boon, Christie, Day, Socino, Hallett.

Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Hodge, Baldwin, Wyatt, Cordero; H Skinner, Snow; Keast, Innard, Petch, Witty, Price, Lonsdale, Capstick, Armand (capt).

Replacements: Poole, Kenny, Johnson, Dennis, Hinkley, Yarnell, Walsh, Mehson.

Referee: Adam Leal.

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