Aviva Premiership match report - Saracens claim bonus point win over Exeter
Last Updated: 17/02/13 3:41pm
Saracens celebrated the first Aviva Premiership game at their new Allianz Park home with a resounding 31-11 triumph over a struggling Exeter.
Having seen their eight-match unbeaten run end at the hands of London Irish Sarries bounced back to winning ways in emphatic fashion, claiming a bonus point in the first league fixture to be played on an artificial turf pitch.
Charlie Hodgson touched down while props Matt Stevens and Mako Vunipola, who marked his return from England duty with a brace, also crossed.
Such a scoreline didn't look on the cards at half time when the hosts only led 7-3, though the margin could have been much more if Hodgson had not been so profligate off the tee.
The experienced fly-half failed with three attempts at the posts in the opening 40 minutes, the last of his misses coming after full-back Ben Ransom's break had resulted in opposite number Luke Arscott being sin-binned for coming in at the side.
In the end the former Sale Shark decided the best way to put points on the board was to just cross the try-line, quick ball from a ruck allowing him to dummy his way through a huge hole in the Exeter line.
Having kicked a penalty to break the deadlock in the 25th minute, Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson missed the chance to close the gap right before the interval when he pushed a three-pointer wide.
Hodgson seemed to find his kicking boots in the changing room at half time as he landed a 43rd minute penalty to extend the gap before they put the game beyond their opponents with two quick-fire tries from a pair of unlikely scorers.
Exeter's failure to secure line-out ball near their own line led to Stevens ploughing over and although Steenson popped up with a penalty at the other end, Vunipola's maiden Premiership try put the game beyond the visitors.
Just like London buses, the Wellington-born front-rower didn't have too long to wait for his second. A smart offload from winger David Strettle put his team-mate into enough space on the left to force his way through.
To their credit, the Chiefs continued to fight to the death, flanker Richard Baxter tumbling over the line from a ruck to give them a consolation try. Steenson converted to round out the scoring, but it couldn't take the gloss off a thoroughly enjoyable homecoming for Sarries.
Fri 24th Apr
Bath43 - 18London Irish
Sat 25th Apr
Sale Sharks23 - 25Harlequins
Gloucester42 - 40Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers38 - 17London Welsh
Northampton25 - 20Saracens
Sun 26th Apr
Wasps36 - 29Exeter
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins
Aviva Premiership Round 15
Rugby director Steve Diamond remained upbeat on Aviva Premiership survival after Sale's 26-25 win over London Welsh.
Sale claimed a potentially vital victory in their battle against relegation, winning 26-25 at London Welsh.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young admitted his side were lucky to come out on top in Sunday's clash with Gloucester.
- Wasps claim important win
- O'Shea: Care was world class
- Harlequins reclaim top spot
- West hails Northampton grit
- Sarries happy with new home
- Gold plays down Bath progress
- Saints revive play-off hopes
- Hot Bath make it six on bounce
- Worcester v Saints: Teams
- Quins v Leicester: Teams
- London Welsh v Sale: Teams
- Bath v L Irish: Teams
- Saracens v Exeter: Teams