Chiefs regain top spot by downing Saracens in thriller

By Tom Webber 30 December 2019 4
Chiefs regain top spot by downing Saracens in thriller

Exeter Chiefs regained their place at the top of the Premiership by beating Saracens 14-7 in a thrilling game at Sandy Park.

Rob Baxter's side replaced Northampton Saints at the summit on Sunday, though they had to survive a late scare after Dave Ewers gave away a penalty try and was sent to the sin bin with a minute remaining for going in at the side.

Against the side that beat them in the last two Premiership finals, Exeter moved ahead in the sixth minute. Max Malins spilled a loose pass from Owen Farrell, and Nic White, who opened the scoring when the Chiefs lost 37-34 to Sarries at Twickenham in June, hacked on to ground the ball in the corner.

Joe Simmonds added the extras, but the hosts came under pressure after Harry Williams was sent to the sin bin for pulling down a driving maul.

Farrell missed a second penalty as Williams returned and Simmonds did tremendously to hold up Jamie George and deny Saracens a try on the stroke of half-time.

Exeter got the reward their strong start to the second period deserved when Jacques Vermeulen touched down his first Premiership try, but their focus soon returned to defence.

Williams was shown a red card from the bench in the 77th minute after getting involved in a melee sparked by White coming together with Duncan Taylor, and Saracens upped the pressure.

Saracens were able to salvage a losing bonus point through a penalty try, meaning they are now 18 behind Leicester Tigers, but were unable to restore parity in the closing stages.

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Tom Webber