Dead-eye Davis sticks the boot into Saracens

Saracens 9 Exeter 23
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The Independent Online

The Premiership's newest members should consider replacing their Chiefs motif with a silk purse and a sow's ear. Exeter's mix of players, either fresh to the top division or with so-so records previously, rampaged to a first away win since their promotion – and at the home of last season's beaten finalists to boot.

Brendan Venter, the Saracens director of rugby, corrected himself immediately from describing his side's conquerors as "nobodies" to "a team of unknowns" but the sentiment was clear. Exeter are busy mugging the unwary. Take Ryan Davis. The fly-half was squeezed out of Bath last summer by the signing of Sam Vesty, and as a still young man at 24, headed further west. With Exeter's regular No10 and goal- kicker, Gareth Steenson injured, Davis belied his reputation as nobody's deadeyed dick by landing three penalties and a touchline conversion, and saw the easiest of his five kicks – the conversion of his 39th minute try – bounce through off a post.

"I'm pretty overwhelmed with how it went," said Davis, a former England Under-21 captain. "We went to Leicester and nearly won, we went to Northampton and nearly won, I think it was about time we did something. The thing we've worked on is not being scared of what these teams can bring. We do a little analysis on the other team but really focus on doing what we do well. It came from our forwards; they drove us all the way."

Davis's try came from a line-out take by James Hanks from near halfway , a few pick-and-go phases, a jink here and there from a couple of backs and Davis waltzed through an inviting gap.

Alex Goode kicked two penalties either side of one by Davis but a spell of pressure in the Exeter 22 came to nothing, and as Goode looked to spread the play, his pass was snaffled and Brett Sturgess, Exeter's loose-head prop, did a passable impersonation of a Pamplona bull on a 20-metre run-in. Davis's conversion and penalty did the rest.

Scorers: Saracens: Penalties Goode 3. Exeter: Tries Davis, Sturgess; Conversions Davis 2; Penalties Davis 3.

Saracens: C Wyles; N Cato (D Strettle, 40), K Ratuvou, N Mordt (B Barritt, 40; M Parr, 68), M Tagicakibau; A Goode, N de Kock (R Wigglesworth, 50); D Carstens (R Skuse, 73), E Reynecke (J George, 56), C Nieto, S Borthwick (capt), M Botha (H Smith, 56), K Brown (J Melck, 50), J Burger, E Joubert.

Exeter: L Arscott; A Higgins, P Dollman, B Rennie (S Naqelevuki, 50), M Foster; R Davis, H Thomas; B Sturgess, N Clark (S Alcott, 53), C Budgen (H Tui, 70), T Hayes (capt), J Hanks (P Kimlin, 77), T Johnson, J Scaysbrook, R Baxter.

Referee: T Wigglesworth (Yorkshire).