Saracens crush Exeter in Farrell's absence while battle for Premiership play-offs intensifies

By Sports Desk September 13, 2020

Saracens thumped title favourites Exeter Chiefs 40-17 in the final Premiership match between the teams for at least a season.

With Saracens heading down to the Championship, punished for breaching salary-cap rules, they will hope to make a swift return and re-establish the rivalry with the Devonians.

A five-try performance from the home side secured the points on this occasion, yet both sides were significantly under-strength, with their focus firmly on next week's European Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Saracens, without suspended England captain Owen Farrell, turned up tries from Rotimi Segun, Dom Morris, Elliott Obatoyinbo, Jaco Venter and Cameron Boon.

Facundo Cordero, Will Witty and Dave Dennis replied for Exeter, whose six-match winning run since the league re-started came to an end.

Next Saturday sees holders Saracens go to Pro14 winners Leinster in the Champions Cup, followed a day later by Exeter's home test against Northampton Saints.

The race to join Exeter in the four-team play-offs intensified as the day ended with the sides in second to fifth position separated by just two points.

Sale Sharks fell from second to fourth place after losing 37-22 at home to Bath, for whom Rhys Priestland booted 17 points.

Bath's tries came from Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph and Ben Spencer, who crossed twice, as they nudged up to third in the table.

Wasps now sit second, after they picked apart Bristol 59-35, knocking the Bears down to fifth spot.

They had eight try-scorers in the bonus-point success, with Jack Willis, Josh Bassett, Tom Cruse, Will Rowlands, Zach Kibirige, Dan Robson, Tom Willis and Gabriel Oghre all going over, as well as a penalty try.

Lowly Leicester Tigers secured a 28-24 win over Northampton Saints, with Ben Youngs marking his 250th appearance for the club by bagging a fifth-minute try.

Worcester Warriors enjoyed a 40-25 win at Twickenham Stoop against fellow strugglers London Irish, with Francois Hougaard and Ollie Lawrence both scoring a pair of tries.

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    After making his New Zealand debut off the bench in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Wellington last weekend, Clarke started in the second game between the trans-Tasman rivals in Auckland. 

    Clarke capitalised on the opportunity too, earning comparisons to the great Jonah Lomu as his running game helped his side to a resounding 27-7 triumph at Eden Park. 

    He beat 12 defenders during the course of the game – the second-highest number recorded by a player in a Test since the beginning of 2010. 

    It was on one such burst that Wallabies back-row Hooper made contact with Clarke in a way that certainly caught his attention. 

    "You know what, Michael Hooper grabbed my nuts just then," he told Sky Sport in an interview after the game. 

    "They were really sore. I turned and tried to push his hand off." 

    While watching a montage of his performance, Clarke – whose father, Eroni, played for New Zealand in the 1990s – also admitted that he tried to do the same to Hooper. 

    "On this run, I tried to get him back," Clarke said while watching a replay. "Our physio said to get him back, so I tried to do it there." 

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    Foster denied feeling relieved at the improved performance but accepts his side have now set a standard to which they must adhere.

    "Relief is not something I feel at all," he said. "This is what Test matches are about. If we don't perform to the levels we want to, we know a lot of pressure comes on this team.

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