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Gritty Chiefs end Sarries' home Premiership run

By Peter Hanson
Ian Whitten scores for Exeter Chiefs

Leaders Exeter Chiefs ended Saracens’ unbeaten 19-match home Premiership run by grinding out a 20-18 victory in a keenly contested top-of-the-table clash.

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Having lost to Gloucester last time out and been beaten by the Chiefs in last season’s semi-final, Sarries were keen to make a statement at Allianz Park – where they had not lost in the league since March 2016 – against the defending champions.

And the hosts made a great start when Alex Goode responded to Gareth Steenson’s early penalty by diving over after seven minutes, before Schalk Brits dotted down while Nic White was in the sin-bin.

However, another Steenson penalty kept the Chiefs within striking distance and Ian Whitten broke the hosts’ defensive line five minutes after the interval to further reduce the arrears.

A monster penalty from Marcelo Bosch stretched the home side’s lead, but Moray Low touched down at the end of some brilliant work from Exeter’s forwards and Steenson added what proved to be the winning extras.

In Sunday’s other fixture, Wasps survived a huge scare to win 17-13 at bottom club London Irish.

Irish led 10-0 thanks to Alex Lewington’s score and the boot of Tommy Bell.

But tries from Ashley Johnson, Josh Bassett and Nizaam Carr helped Wasps to a narrow comeback win.

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William 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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