Exeter took revenge on arch-rivals Saracens in their first meeting since the salary-cap scandal broke but their 14-7 Gallagher Premiership victory was marred by a late red card for Harry Williams as tempers flared at Sandy Park.

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In an intense defensive battle, the match reached boiling point in the 77th minute when a ferocious brawl broke out on the sideline which saw prop Harry Williams red-carded for joining the scuffle from the bench.

Whilst trying to settle the situation, Saracens’ Number 8 Billy Vunipola had to be dragged away by teammates from referee Wayne Barnes, who issued multiple ‘last chance’ warnings to the England international for backchat.

Vunipola was lucky to not be given his marching orders by the experienced Barnes, with many online viewing his behaviour as deserving of a yellow card.

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Vunipola’s display of defiance marred what was an impressive performance for the Saracens’ forward who carried hard and made a truckload of tackles.

For Exeter, the win avenged a Premiership final defeat last year and furthered their cause this season to claim a title after losing three finals in four years to Saracens. Two of those three defeats were deemed to be made when Saracens were not compliant with the salary cap.

Despite being docked 35 competition points, Saracens have still been one of the best sides in the Premiership with five wins from their opening six matches. Before Sunday’s match, they held a better record than table-toppers Exeter but now both sides are 5-2 despite being at opposite ends of the ladder.

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