I had planned to write up every Saracens match this season, but I just couldn’t bring myself to re-watch their match against London Irish, they got exactly what they deserved from that match, NOTHING. Irish were deserved winners as Saracens failed to score with a 2 man advantage at one point. The only good news to have come post match was that Ben Earl’s red card was dismissed so he would make his 100th appearance from the bench in this match.

There’s been a lot of talk around disciplinary decisions over the Christmas break, no less the ban for Joe Marler who uttered some very unpleasant words in the match against Bristol Bears, a line was crossed and a 6 week ban with 4 weeks suspended issued. The details of hearings aren’t available online past the 7th December, but I’d love to know how Adam Coleman only received a 4 week ban for his dreadful hit on Saracens Tom Woolstencroft. Looking back to last season he received a red card in both matches against Saracens for the same offence, I hadn’t realised the second had been rescinded, he received a 3 week ban for the first. The 4 weeks must be, mid-entry – 6 weeks, halved for admitting the offence, politely, and a week added for previous. I’ll be interested to see the full detail. But I hope he makes changes to his tackle technique!

On the the New Year’s Eve match at The Stonex Stadium, I do have to say I think that choice of fixture was very harsh on the travelling team and fans, especially when another London team, the aforementioned Irish had to travel to Gloucester. It surely shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange for teams not to have to travel so far on a key date in the year.

A determined looking Saracens after their warm up

The weather was unpleasant, with rain galore and plenty of wind added in too. A fixture which is built into a grudge match by the media I was expecting a 3rd fought, close competition, to my surprise it was anything but that. Saracens had Maro Itoje and Jamie George back, Chiefs were missing, resting a few players having had a bug run through the squad. One such missing player was Stuart Hogg, I thought his replacement 22 year old Josh Hodge was Chiefs best player in my opinion, he really impressed; it’s interesting to note he was the top scorer for England U20’s in Argentina in 2019. He moved from Newcastle to Exeter in 2020.

70 minutes for Alex Lozowski from the bench, still no sign of Francois Hougaard

Andy Christie opened up the scoring for Saracens in what looked like a training ground move, Mako Vunipola took a tap penalty, flicking the ball up to brother Billy, who put his own quick pass to Christie who ran through to score a simple 5 pointer. According to Austin Healey it was a copy of a Toulouse try, either way it was highly effective! Farrell added the extras and Saracens had a 7 point lead.

Elliot Daly, who has been in brilliant form this season left the pitch on 10 minutes, have watched the match back I’m still not sure of the cause but can only hope it was for the blood on the back of his head rather than a concussion, he didn’t return which gave Alex Lozowski a 70 minute run. Daly has been kept for his team this season and I really hope he’s not now out for weeks.

Joe Simmonds slotted a penalty for Exeter on 21 minutes but they, amazingly would be the only time his team troubled the scoreboard operator.

A perfect grubber kick by Farrell moments later saw the ball bounce perfectly for Sean Maitland who touched down in the corner, there was a suspicion that he’s knocked the ball on, but the officials were happy he’d touched the ball down. The ex Scotland winger is another who’s been in fine form after returning from injury. The kick went wide on this one.

Sean Maitland is in fine form!

Saracens s extended their lead just before half time as Italian prop Marco Riccioni after Maro Itoje moved the ball quickly to Christie from a line out close to the Chiefs line, it was Riccio’s first try for Saracens and he was clearly overjoyed. Farrell added the eatrxas and the teams went in at half-time with the scores on Saracens 19 Exeter 3.

A first try for Marco Riccioini

Now might be a good time to look at the game stats, Saracens had 54% of try possession but 68 % of the territory, a key stsar was on the penalties conceded front, Saracens had a n issue on numbers given away early in the season but in this day they only gave 5 to Exeter’s 15. While it’s always good to have an 8- minute game with no cards shown I do believe Chiefs were lucky not to fall foul of a team card with that many against them. Farrell extended the lead with penalty kicks in the space of 5 minutes.

But Saracens were keen to get the 4 try bonus point and a moment of brilliance/fluke from Farrell saw him flick the ball blindly towards Alex Lewington on as a sub, the had an easy run in to score that 4th try. There was both joy and disbelief on Farrell’s face! He’d been far from joyful moments earlier when sun scrum half Aled Davies had thrown him a ball he wasn’t expecting, he dropped the ball and a couple of F-Bombs in Davies direction. Not pleasant I feel but a true sign of the competitor in the Saracens captain.

A deserved Man of the Match accolade for Owen Farrell

Saracens hadn’t;t finished with the tries and their 5th was made by the forwards as they rolled the maul towards the Chiefs line, it was a Back, Nick Tompkins who emerged from the bottom with ball in hand. The conversion was missed, making that 6 points missed. In spite of that the final score was Saracens 35 Exeter Chiefs 3. The coach journey back to North Devon will have been a quiet one I should imagine; something isn’t quite right in Exeter this season, missing players aside. Exeter sit 7th in the league with 5 wins and 6 losses. Saracens finish the season with a 10 point lead and 10 wins from 11 matches.

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