It’s been a funny season so far as a Saracens fan, I haven’t wanted to write about many games when I’ve got home. The Champions Cup semi-final was a huge exception and this match is another!

With both teams secure in 1st and 2nd place and a Champions Cup Final ahead for Saracens next week this was a match up missing many first team players from both sides.

Saracens

  • 1 Richard Barrington
  • 2 Joe Gray
  • 3 Vincent Koch
  • 4 Nick Isekwie
  • 5 Will Skelton
  • 6 Calum Clark
  • 7 Schalk Burger
  • 8 Ben Earl
  • 9 Richard Wigglesworth
  • 10 Max Malins
  • 11 Alex Lewington
  • 12 Nick Tompkins
  • 13 Marcelo Bosch
  • 14 Rotimi Segun
  • 15 Matt Gallagher

Exeter Chiefs

  • 1 Ben Moon
  • 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
  • 3 Tomas Francis
  • 4 Ollie Atkins
  • 5 Josh Caulfield
  • 6 Sean Lonsdale
  • 7 Richard Capstick
  • 8 Tom Lawday
  • 9 Jack Maunder
  • 10 Gareth Steenson
  • 11 Alex Cuthbert
  • 12 Ian Whitten
  • 13 Max Bodilly
  • 14 Tom O’Flaherty
  • 15 Phil Dollman

Amongst the players listed were 3 players for whom this was a special day. Marcelo Bosch is retiring at the end of the season, he joined Saracens in 2013 and has become a popular figure both on and off the pitch. I for one will never forget his kick from the half way line to beat Racing Metro (as they were then) in the Champions Cup on their way to the title. Schalk Burger joined Saracens in 2016 and has made a big impression, this is likely to have been Bosch’s last performance for Saracens, we may yet see Burger again. Phil Dollman was making his 150th Premiership Rugby appearance, having joined Chiefs in 2009 from Newport Gwent Dragons. It’s a shame in a way that landmark happened away from ‘home’.

Schalk Burger in the thick of things

I’m not going to write a long match report, just some of the highlights. The first half was really all about defence, the Saracens defence. Phil Dollman was taken high while he was in the air by Will Skelton, the yellow card that followed was a no brainer. Dollman left for an HIA, he did return but made an early exit later on.

Joe Simmonds replaced Phil Dollman – a bright young star from the Chiefs Academy
Saracens repelled Exeter time and again in the first half

The Saracens defence was resolute as Chiefs attacked for wave after wave. The only score of the half was for Alex Lewington who benefited from a ball ripped from Luke Cown-Dickie by Vincent Koch. Hacked forward by Richard Wigglesworth the ball fell well for Lewington. The score was 7 nil at half time.

2 tries for Alex Lewington today

Things changed somewhat in the second half as Saracens scored another 4 tries. Max Malins at 10 ran the show for the home team, it was great to see the 22 year old bossing his forwards around at times, making sure they were in the right place at the right time.

Max Malins

Lewington scored his second 3 minutes into the half, with Saracens 3rd try coming just 3 minutes later as the villain of the first half, Will Skelton, turned hero with a blistering run down the pitch. I can only imagine what Gareth Steenson was thinking as he was literally swatted out of the way. Nick Tompkins was on hand to take the offload and score under the posts. The celebrations were rightly focused on Big Will, he’s really come back to his best form this season, he looks so much fitter than he did last year and that’s translating into his work on the pitch.

Will Skelton on his way to the naughty step

Exeter had another spell of pressure on the Saracens line and this time they got over through Richard Capstick, Steenson converted the try, but these were to be the Chiefs only points.

Dom Morris replacing Marcelo Bosch
Dom Morris scoring his 2nd try – impressive the ref got there in time to see him touch down

In contrast to Bosch and Burger, 21 year old Dom Morris was making his home Premiership Rugby debut, having made his debut against Wasps. This was a match which will stay etched in his mind. He scored 2 tries, the first coming from a sublime pass from Malins, the second a 70 metre solo effort after he intercepted a pass from Max Bodilly. This was the icing on the cake for the home crowd, finishing off what was an emphatic win. The final score was Saracens 38 Exeter Chiefs 7.

Ben Earl has come on in leaps and bounds this season

Huge credit must go to both teams, 23 of those in the teams came through the Academy route, on the basis of what we saw today, both teams will carry on with their recent success.

Christian Judge has been an inspired signing for Saracens he leaves for Bath next season

A word about the Bionic Man in the stand behind me, it never ceases to amaze me that some can see so much more than the officials at ground level and right up close! It’s also regrettable how often those people have such loud voices, he even managed to drown out Lawrence Dallaglio who we can usually hear shouting his commentary!

Jack Maunder in rugby action

And while I think of it, a word for Jack Maunder too, standing at 5ft 10 he confronted Will Skelton at one point. He looks a very capable scrum half, ad he’s clearly a very brave one to attempt to take on a man who is quite simply enormous!

It was good to see Richard Wigglesworth starting at Allianz Park

Saracens now go on to Newcastle to play Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup Final. I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see both Saracens and Exeter in the Premiership Final on June 1st.

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