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Saracens avoid third straight defeat with convincing win over Exeter

By PA
PA

Saracens avoided falling to their worst run in the Gallagher Premiership for three years by dispatching Exeter 40-17 in a mismatch lacking the fireworks of recent collisions.

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Any meaning to the Premiership’s fiercest rivalry vanished when two under-strength teams were announced for a fixture that in other circumstances would have produced high drama and a host of intriguing sub-plots.

But with both clubs in Champions Cup quarter-final action next weekend, Exeter 12 points clear at the league’s summit and Saracens long-since relegated for repeated salary cap breaches, it was robbed of its box office appeal.

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Instead they battled for squad bragging rights that came out emphatically in the double winners’ favour as Rotimi Segun, Dom Morris, Elliott Obatoyinbo, Janco Venter and Cameron Boon crossed for tries.

It prevented Saracens from slipping to a third consecutive top-flight defeat – a sequence they last experienced in 2017 – and crashing twice to the Chiefs this season after going down 14-7 in a stormy showdown at Sandy Park in December.

Exeter’s fringe players have been outstanding since lockdown but with two rounds of the regular Premiership campaign to play, they were well beaten to bring their own seven-game winning streak to a halt.

Segun will score few easier tries than the simple fifth-minute stroll across the whitewash made possible by a determined series of forward drives that eventually stretched Exeter to breaking point.

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Saracens then invited pressure by conceding successive penalties in front of the posts after the Chiefs had staged a successful line-out drive, but the real damage was eventually done out wide when juggling hands sent Facundo Cordero over.

For the third time a shot at goal struck a post as Manu Vunipola found the upright with a penalty to follow the same path as both conversion attempts.

The England Under-20 fly-half was more successful with an easier attempt as Saracens regained the lead and a minute before half-time daylight opened up through a magnificent off-load by Juan Pablo Socino.

Socino ran straight at a half-gap in Exeter’s midfield and although the former Argentina centre was stopped dead, he expertly slipped the ball out of the tackle for Morris to cross.

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When Vunipola landed his second penalty, it was beginning to look bleak for the Chiefs until Will Witty barged over after a series of pick and goes.

But the door slammed shut on the title favourites in the 54th minute when a Vunipola penalty was followed by the fly-half launching a high ball to the touchline for Obatoyinbo to demonstrate his finishing skills with an assured touch down.

It looked ominous for Exeter when they were shoved off their own ball at the scrum for Venter to score and although the flow of points was temporarily stemmed, Boon added a fifth try with three minutes left before Dave Dennis grabbed a stoppage-time consolation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saracens v Exeter Chiefs - Gallagher Premiership - Allianz Park

 

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J
Jon 1 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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