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Saracens 35 Exeter Chiefs 18

08 Feb 2015
Saracens 35 Exeter Chiefs 18

Nick de Jager scored a try-double as Saracens cranked up the pressure early in the second half to secure a LV= Cup home semi-final at the expense of reigning champions Exeter Chiefs.

Sarries will now host Northampton Saints next month – while Chiefs will head to Leicester – as the home side started the ball rolling through Tim Streather and de Jager.

However, Exeter did fight back either side of half time after scores from Sam Skinner and Tom James, only for de Jager, Catalin Fercu and Matt Hankin to wrap up victory for Sarries.

Ben Spencer also enjoyed a fine day from scrum-half for Saracens, nailing all five conversions.

The stakes were high for both teams as Chiefs were aiming to book a semi-final at Sandy Park, while a Saracens win would take them above Pool 1 leaders Gloucester Rugby.

And in an end-to-end start, Saracens prop Biyi Alo steamrollered through the Chiefs line only to cough up possession from a covering tackle.

They kept pounding on the visitors’ door without bringing the ball with them – Streather the culprit – but he was to make amends moments later.

Mike Ellery’s surge pinned Exeter deep into their own territory and Streather was at hand to charge down Max Bodilly’s attempted clearance, the ball falling kindly into his hands before crossing over.

On 23 minutes they doubled their lead with a masterful team effort, zig-zagging through the Chiefs half – with Ben Ransom at the heart of things – until the ball reached de Jager in acres of space.

Spencer went two from two conversions though failed with a penalty moments later, after which Exeter burst into life.

Firstly a textbook line-out and drive was adjudged to have been held up inches short of the try-line after a brief consultation with the TMO, but fierce scrummaging eventually resulted in Skinner scooping the ball up and hurling himself across the whitewash.

Ceri Sweeney made no mistake with the conversion and he further reduced the arrears before half time when Sarries were penalised for not rolling away.

Four points was the difference at the start of the second half and the hosts had to hold firm after a James burst before Sweeney closed the gap to one with another penalty.

And James completed a brief turnaround after Dave Lewis had spread the ball out to the Welshman to go over in the corner.

A Sarries blitz was soon to come as in the 57th minute de Jager pummelled his way through Exeter bodies to record his second try of the day.

Moments later wing Fercu guaranteed the hosts the bonus point, Ben Spencer showing off a creative spark before his Romanian teammate did superbly well to finish on the left.

Exeter looked ruffled and a Spencer kick from hand immediately pegged them back – and Hankin turned the pressure into points off the back of an inexorable maul.

Spencer took his conversion rate to five out of five and, after Exeter’s disappointing afternoon was compounded by a late sin bin to Ben White, Sarries coasted through to book their home semi-final.

Tickets for this year’s LV= Cup Final on 22 March at Franklin’s Gardens are now on sale. Click here to snap one up from just £20 for adults, £10 for juniors to see who will win the first silverware of the season.

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing

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