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Match Reaction: Exeter Chiefs 11 Saracens 14

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter is certainly not hitting the panic button after his side’s 15-match winning streak at Sandy Park was ended by Saracens on Sunday.

The boot of Charlie Hodgson proved to be the Chiefs undoing in the second half after they had raced into an early lead through James Short’s intercept try against his former club.

Samuela Vunisa’s try just before the interval also proved important as the home side turned around from a first half with a strong wind behind them with only an 11-5 lead.

And they were made to pay for that in the second half as Saracens – who move five points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table – turned the screw.

Baxter’s charges stay second in the table but lost on home turf for the first time in 13 months – not that Baxter was too downcast.

"The result is not the be all and end all as we are still second in the Premiership and overall our performance was pretty good as we just lost a game, late in the day against a very good side," he said.

"It was a tough game and a very close one but I'm slightly frustrated with certain aspects of our game.

"Our ill-discipline just before half-time gave them a try and it was a huge moment in the match, so we have to be a little bit better."

Mark McCall’s Saracens side have still only lost one game all season and claimed a measure of revenge for last year when the Chiefs did the double over the London club.

With a number of players absent on international duty as well, McCall was delighted with the squad depth on show.

And with a tough clash with Wasps up next, the Irishman is hoping his side can continue to grind out results.

"If we had lost that one, I would have said it was one that got away as we had much the better of possession and territory but they defended very well,” he said.

"We were 11-0 down playing against the strong wind but we didn't deserve to be and Vunisa's try just before the interval was crucial as we went into half-time only six points down.

"It doesn't get any easier as we have Wasps next week and they have less players away to international calls than we do, but I have confidence in this group of players for the next few weeks."
 
Exeter: Dollman; Woodburn, Whitten, Hill, Short; Steenson, Chudley; Moon (Hepburn, 52), Yeandle (Cowan-Dickie, 52), Low (Williams, 67), Atkins (Stevenson, 61), Parling, Armand, Salvi (Horstmann, 72), Waldrom
Replacements:  Lewis, Hooley, Bodilly.
 
Saracens: Ransom; Ellery (Earle, 73), Tomkins, Barritt, Wyles; Hodgson, Wrigglesworth; Barrington (Gill, 67), Brits, Du Plessis (Lamositele, 73), Smith (Itoje, 43), Hamilton, Wray, Brown, Vunisa (Burger, 47)
Replacements: Saunders, Spencer, Mordt,
 
 
Exeter Chiefs 11 Saracens 14
 
Exeter
Tries: Short
Penalties: Steenson 2
 
Saracens
Tries: Vunisa
Penalties: Hodgson 3

Referee: Tom Foley
Attendance: 12,450
 

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