Saracens slip to first defeat of season

PA Sport
Sireli Naqelevuki scores Exeter's only try at Sandy Park
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Sireli Naqelevuki scores Exeter's only try at Sandy Park

Exeter returned to winning ways with their first victory over Saracens at Sandy Park, 14-12, to move into the top six in the Aviva Premiership table as the visitors slipped to their first defeat of the season.

Sireli Naqelevuki scored the game's only try after 54 minutes, with the rest of the Chiefs' points coming from three first-half Ignacio Mieres penalties.

All of Sarries' points came from the boot of fly-half Owen Farrell - two penalties in each half - but his efforts were not enough to help his team avoid a first loss of the campaign.

Both teams took time to settle into the game and adjust to the slippery ball before the hosts went close to scoring after 10 minutes when scrum-half Haydn Thomas charged down a kick from full-back Andy Goode but, after several drives, the Chiefs knocked on at the line.

But having given away several penalties, a couple when in attacking positions, at the breakdown it was Saracens who broke the deadlock as fly-half Owen Farrell landed a 25-metre penalty from just to the left of the posts. Just before the midway point of the half the Chiefs were back on level terms thanks to a 40-metre penalty from Argentina fly-half Mieres, 10 metres in from the right touchline.

But the Chiefs failed to learn from earlier errors and were again penalised at the breakdown as Farrell slotted a 25-metre kick from in front of the posts. Hargreaves was penalised soon after but Mieres' 30-metre kick hit the upright.

Just before the half-hour mark, with the Chiefs pressing the line, Sarries skipper Brown was shown the yellow card by referee Sean Davey and Mieres kicked the resulting penalty and his third a couple of minutes later to put Exeter 9-6 in front at the break.

Farrell, now with a head bandage after having treatment off the field in the first half, levelled the scores with his third penalty shortly after the restart before Chris Ashton was sent to the sin-bin for a shoulder-charge on James Phillips, but Mieres failed with the kick.

Exeter took advantage of the extra man with inside centre Naqelevuki taking an offload from wing Matt Jess to score in the corner only for Farrell reduced the arrears with his fourth penalty just before Chiefs hooker Chris Whitehead was yellow-carded on the hour.

Both sides continued to mount attacks in the final minutes, with the visitors striving for maximum points. Sarries replacement fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked for touch rather than attempt a long-range penalty, but it came to nothing.

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