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Club Rugby

Goode's American booty too much for Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs 12 Saracens 33

Way to go, as they probably say Stateside. With the aim of homing in on their first Premiership title, Saracens did not spend the past week in the environs of north London but enjoyed a "unique bonding experience" in Florida where they trained in an air-conditioned bubble courtesy of the Miami Dolphins and learnt martial arts.

Whatever, Saracens emerged from their first visit to Sandy Park with a thoroughly satisfactory win, their ninth in succession in all competitions. The London club, breathing down the necks of Leicester at the top of the Premiership, were stunned when they hosted Exeter last October and were soundly beaten 23-9. That was when the Chiefs were well and truly on the warpath but after some resounding results they have not been able to sustain the momentum. This was their fourth successive league defeat and they face a Rugby Football Union hearing following revelations that three foreign players, rather than the permitted two, were included in their match-day squads for recent games at London Irish and Leeds. They lost both matches but gained a bonus point against the Yorkshire club, who are favourites for relegation, and are sweating over their fate. "The error made was totally unintentional and in no way did we try to gain any kind of advantage over any of our rivals," Tony Rowe, the Exeter chief executive, said. "Precedents have been set in similar situations in the past and we hope any punishment will not be too severe."

The Chiefs flagged in the final quarter against a sassier, classier outfit, despite home tries for Jason Shoemark and Sireli Naqelevuki. Exeter were always behind but, for the most part, not by much and when they were on the offensive early in the second half the match looked in the balance. However, Sarries upped the tempo and scored 20 points in 17 minutes. Noah Cato exposed Exeter's weariness by running through four tackles for a try from halfway and by way of a contrast they quickly added another through a driving maul, the score going to Jamie George, the replacement hooker for the influential Schalk Brits.

With Andy Goode kicking everything in sight and Owen Farrell contributing a long range drop goal, Sarries were in a bubble, air conditioned or not.

Exeter Chiefs L Arscott; M Jess, J Shoemark, S Naqelevuki, N Sestaret; G Steenson (I Mieres, 70), J Poluleuligaga (G Cowley, 55); B Sturgess (B Moon, 60), N Clark (C Whitehead, 60), H Tui (C Budgen, 50), T Hayes (captain), J Hanks (C Slade, 60), T Johnson, R Baxter, J Scaysbrook.

Saracens A Goode; D Strettle, C Wyles, B Barritt (A Powell, 64), J Short (N Cato, 45); O Farrell, R Wigglesworth; M Stevens (R Gill, 52), S Brits (J George, 66), C Nieto (P du Plessis, 70), M Botha (H Vyvyan, 45), H Smith, K Brown, E Joubert(captain), J Burger (A Saull, 52).

Referee D Richards (Berkshire).


Tries: Shoemark, Naqelevuki

Con: Mieres


Tries: Wyles, Cato, Farrell.

Cons: Goode 3

Pens: Goode 3

DG: Farrell