James Hadfield stars for Saracens in entertaining win over Exeter


Saracens leapfrogged Exeter in the Gallagher Premiership table courtesy of an entertaining 40-22 victory at a packed StoneX Stadium.

Two tries from James Hadfield and 15 points from the boot of Racing 92-bound Owen Farrell saw them pick up maximum points and avenge their 65-10 opening weekend defeat against the same opponents.

Ahead of the eight-week break for the Guinness Six Nations, the sides scored two tries apiece to go in level at 15-15, and continued the back-and-forth affair to start the second, including a stunning try-of-the-season contender from Rusi Tuima.

But in the week Farrell’s departure was confirmed, it was his boot that helped Saracens move clear in the second half and secure a valuable victory.

The opening score came from hooker Hadfield, who rumbled over from 10 metres out after Farrell kicked a penalty to the corner, although the fly-half’s conversion attempt bounced off the post.

Exeter responded with patient build-up play on the Saracens line before Olly Woodburn dotted down in the corner.

Match Summary

Harvey Skinner’s conversion miss kept the scores level but Saracens again moved ahead as Ivan van Zyl scored under the posts, finishing off an Andy Christie break.

Chiefs looked like they would again respond quickly, but Skinner missed from 25 metres out straight in front to keep the score at 12-5.

Josh Hodge took over the Exeter kicking duties and it was his kick to touch that preceded his side’s second try, the resulting quick lineout finding Greg Visilau at the front to crash over.

Hodge’s conversion went in off the post to again level the score, with he and Farrell trading penalties to finish off the half.

There was a blistering start to the second period as Saracens went back in front with barely a minute on the clock.

Stu Townsend spilled a kick inside his half, and after a Saracens kick ahead saw Hodge mis-kick close to his line, Juan Martin Gonzalez profited to dot down.

However, the response from Exeter, and Hodge’s atonement, was emphatic. Having picked up the ball on his try line, Hodge snaked his way into the Saracens’ half and clean hands eventually saw Tuima finish off the incredible end-to-end try.

Olly Woodburn scores in the corner – PA

Both tries were converted, with the scores level once again, before a Farrell-inspired Saracens moved clear.

England’s all-time leading points scorer kicked a penalty and slotted a 40-metre drop goal before Hadfield grabbed his second try with 15 minutes left as the lead stretched to 13.

Exeter continued to fight knowing a converted try would get them two bonus points at a minimum, but it was Saracens who scored another as Ben Hammersley spilled the ball in the in-goal area allowing Theo McFarland to dot down his side’s fifth.





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