Premiership: Exeter Chiefs 18-15 Saracens – Chiefs win tense encounter

Luke Cowan Dickie scores
Luke Cowan-Dickie celebrated his return form injury with what proved to be the winning try
Exeter: (8) 18
Tries: O’Flaherty, Cowan-Dickie Con: J Simmonds Pens: J Simmonds 2
Saracens: (6) 15
Pens: Lozowski 5

Exeter Chiefs edged past Saracens in a gritty Premiership encounter.

A tough first half saw Sam Simmonds have a try disallowed after 10 minutes, but Tom O’Flaherty went over just before the break for Exeter.

Sarries led 9-6 in the second half after Alex Lozowski’s third penalty before Luke Cowan-Dickie’s try from a maul put Exeter in front once again.

Joe Simmonds’ penalty increased the lead before two more from Lozowski set up a tense finish.

The victory moves Exeter up to third in the Premiership while Saracens remain second after just a second loss of the season.

The game was Saracens’ first visit to Sandy Park since their enforced relegation from the Premiership in the wake of the salary cap scandal.

There was a tense atmosphere for much of the game which Exeter had the better of in terms of territory and possession, but one in which Saracens were always on their rivals’ coattails.

Lozowski’s early penalty seemed to have been cancelled out by a close-range try from Sam Simmonds after 10 minutes, but replays showed Henry Slade was offside in the build-up.

Joe Simmonds missed a 21st-minute penalty before converting four minutes later after Billy Vunipola was penalised twice for dissent to move the chance into a kickable position.

Lozowski sent over a second penalty before his team-mates – led by Maro Itoje – defended superbly to thwart the Chiefs as Vincent Koch helped force a turnover as his side stopped a dangerous maul from a line-out on their line.

But they could do nothing when the hosts finally found a way through right at the end of the half as the returning Cowan-Dickie blasted through to set up the field position for Simmonds’ pinpoint kick to O’Flaherty who out-jumped Aled Davies.

Lozowski kicked a third penalty eight minutes after the break but another line-out maul soon after saw Cowan-Dickie go over and spark wild celebrations both on and off the pitch.

Simmonds’ penalty made it 18-9 before two more Lozowski three-pointers got the visitors close.

But it was Exeter who ended the strongest as Jonny Hill was held up over the Saracens line by Max Malins after 26 phases following impressive defending by the visitors.

Exeter: Hogg; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds, J Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie (capt), Iosefa-Scott, Gray, Hill, Ewers, Armand, S Simmonds.

Replacements: Yeandle, Kenny, Nixon, Capstick, Kirsten, S Maunder, H Skinner, Hendrickson.

Saracens: Malins; Lewington, Lozowski, Tompkins, Daly; Goode (co-capt), Davies; M Vunipola, Lewis, Koch, Itoje, Isiekwe, Wray (co-capt), Earl, B Vunipola .

Replacements: Pifeleti, Mawi, Clarey, Swinson, McFarland, Christie, Van Zyl, Morris.

Referee: Luke Pearce.


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