Exeter Chiefs motored into the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals with an outstanding performance against a spirited Saracens side at Sandy Park.
With Harlequins opening the door by losing at Northampton Saints on Friday night, the Chiefs, who have finished as runners-up in the competition in back-to-back campaigns, knew a bonus-point win would do.
And they started like a train, with Tom O’Flaherty, Ollie Devoto, Moray Low and Jack Maunder all crossing in the first half.
Saracens hit back through Tom Whiteley, Rotimi Segun and Max Malins but O’Flaherty, Devoto and Paul Davis added further Exeter scores after the break insuring victory despite a late Tom Lindsay try for Saracens.
MAN OF THE MATCH – OLLIE DEVOTO
Exeter have missed Devoto, who played a crucial role in their Aviva Premiership Rugby success a year ago, for large parts of the season due to a back injury.
However, he was at the top of his game against Saracens, scoring two tries, running powerfully and stopping most things that thundered down his channel in defence.
With Aviva Premiership Rugby back next week, a fit and firing Devoto will be key to Exeter’s cause.
TRY OF THE MATCH
Exeter’s backs pulled Saracens all over the place throughout the contest and O’Flaherty’s second try summed that up perfectly.
With Saracens threatening a route back into the game with three first-half tries, Sandy Park went from raucous to nervous until O’Flaherty dotted down.
The ball was tossed out wide after a strong set-piece and they manoeuvred it perfectly to step through Saracens until O’Flaherty touched down.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
A bonus-point was the objective before they walked out and Maunder’s try confirmed it.
The young scrum-half dived over to ensure they were on their way to the semi-finals, where they are guaranteed a home tie.
WHAT THEY SAID
Exeter Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow said: “I am over the moon, if you would have told me last week we would have a home semi and put in the performance we did I would have taken it.
“I am very proud of the group, it just shows the character we have, not just in the squad, but in the Anglo-Welsh group.
“The way we got the try at the end was outstanding, I am very proud.”
Saracens academy coach Adam Collins said: “This Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign has been quite a journey for our guys, we’ve had a lot of young players out there and this has been their first experience of big-time rugby.
“It’s been a steep learning curve for them, but a good one, and one that they have to go through at some point.”
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) February 3, 2018
Real privilege to put the @Saracens jersey on once again. Not the result we wanted at the end of the day against @ExeterChiefs but amazing to be part of the environment again. Thank you for the opportunity pic.twitter.com/qMnWAVJdrA
— Tom Lindsay (@TomLindsay2) February 3, 2018
— Bradleymd0dd (@bradleymdodd) February 3, 2018
This year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup Final will be at the iconic Kingsholm Stadium, home of Gloucester Rugby, on Sunday 18 March. To buy tickets and be part of an unforgettable occasion click here