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Match Reaction: Saracens 36 Exeter Chiefs 18

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall believes the character shown by his returning international stars paved the way for an outstanding victory over the Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park.

McCall welcomed back no less than six internationals to his starting XV including the likes of Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola, who were two of five try scorers on the afternoon.

The bonus-point 38-16 win moved Sarries back to the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby standings with five games remaining in the regular season.

And McCall insists the efforts of Farrell and Billy Vunipola in particular epitomised the quality his side produced.  

"It says a bit about Owen, having not played at 10 for eight or nine weeks, to produce that kind of performance, and that goes for all of our international players," McCall said.

"I thought we were really good. Playing into that strong wind in the first half, it was kind of as good as it gets.

"I thought we scored a couple of great tries in the first half, and should have scored a couple more. Overall, it was a brilliant performance.

"That was Billy Vunipola's fifth game in the Premiership this season. Billy had an outstanding tournament, and he was magnificent out there, not just with the ball.

"Billy has always been consistent for us. I think the England management did a good job with him. They gave him responsibility and told him he was going to be the main man, and Billy has responded to that."

The Chiefs trailed by just six points at the break after two late Gareth Steenson penalties looked to have made up for the damage done by tries from Alex Goode and Billy Vunipola.

But after the break the Chiefs could do little to stem the Sarries onslaught as Farrell, Jackson Wray and Chris Wyles all dotted down – Thomas Waldrom adding two tries to his tally for the season in reply.

And Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter insists his side’s inability to capitalise on the favourable first-half conditions proved costly.

"We had the elements with us in the first half, and we needed to capitalise on that, but we didn't at all," Baxter said.

"We lost ball too easily, and we didn't really get through any kind of phase-play and we didn't exert too much pressure. Ultimately, we paid the price because we weren't able to keep a very good Saracens side under any kind of pressure.

"I thought Saracens were good. On the day, we have been outplayed. The easiest way for me to wrap it up is to remind the players of the bigger picture.

"We came here almost exactly a year ago and won, and Saracens won the Premiership. Individual games between top-four sides don't always carry the weight that they feel they do at this time of year."

Saracens: Goode; Taylor (Ellery 70), Bosch, Barritt, Wyles, Farrell (Ransom 72), Wigglesworth (de Kock 62); M Vunipola (Barrington 70), Brits (Saunders 71), Du Plessis (Lamositele 63); Itoje, Kruis; Wray (Hargreaves 67), Fraser (Brown 57), B Vunipola
 
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman (Bodilly 70); Woodburn, Slade, Whitten, Turner, Steenson (Hooley 70), Lewis (Chudley 51); Hepburn (Moon 51), Cowan-Dickie (Taione 70), Williams (Low 51); Parling, Welch (Atkins 70); Ewers, Salvi (Waldrom 71), Waldrom (Horstmann 70)
 
Saracens
Tries: Goode, B Vunipola, Farrell, Wray, Wyles
Conversions: Farrell (3), Goode
Penalties: Farrell
 
Exeter Chiefs

Tries: Waldrom (2)
Conversions: Hooley
Penalties: Steenson (2)
 
Referee: Matthew Carley

 

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