Search

Brits and Johnston on target to see off Exeter Chiefs

17:24 23 February 2014

Mouritz Botha of Saracens(red skull cap) celebrates after James Johnston scores a try. Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Mouritz Botha of Saracens(red skull cap) celebrates after James Johnston scores a try. Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

2014 Getty Images

Premiership: Saracens 23 London Irish 10

Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs to celebrate Allianz Park’s first birthday in familiar style - with a Premiership victory on the artificial turf.

Since they moved into their permanent home, all but their previous home contest in the league had ended in triumph. That defeat to London Irish saw them concede a place at the summit that had been theirs all campaign and there they must stay for now after leaders Northampton beat Newcastle to remain one point clear.

It was by no means a vintage victory that marked Sarries’ first anniversary in north London, especially for a side who had averaged 35.8 points at their fortress during the last 12 months, but James Johnston’s first league score for the club cancelled out Ian Whitten’s opener after a bright start for Exeter Chiefs.

Schalk Brits crashed over in the second half as the hosts grew in dominance, while Charlie Hodgson added another 13 points to ever-impressive career tally.

Chiefs were quick out of the blocks, blasting holes through the Sarries defence until, on nine minutes, the hosts were found wanting by the corner flag when Whitten zipped over before four defenders could touch him.

Gareth Steenson added the extras and they could have piled on more points, especially when Fetu’u Vainikolo bulldozed through the centre of the pitch. Saracens managed to scramble back to cut out the danger and they grew in stature from there.

They spent the second 20 minutes battering away at Exeter’s rearguard but rarely venturing past the 22-metre line due to either poor handling or incredibly stiff resistance from the visitors.

Hodgson missed a penalty chance to reduce the arrears, although it was an adventurous effort from inside his own half, while Chris Wyles saw the glimmer of a try-scoring chance go begging when the final pass was just fractionally behind him and Dave Lewis steamed in with a tackle.

But there was no stopping 22-stone prop Johnston five minutes from the break with a short-range pick and go, aided by Mouritz Botha, that four Chiefs tacklers couldn’t halt. Hodgson converted and the two sides went into the changing rooms at seven apiece.

After the restart Steenson put the south-west side briefly back in the lead with a penalty goal but Sarries unearthed their trademark lineout drive and, after a huge shove, even by their standards, Brits supplied the finish and Hodgson widened the deficit with a well-taken conversion.

There was a lengthy delay soon after when Botha took a blow to the head in contact and was taken from the pitch on a stretcher, though he was concious and could wave to the crowd as he departed.

Hodgson slotted two penalties to put Sarries comfortably more than a score in front, but, still trying to keep alive their outside hopes of a play-off spot, the Chiefs pushed the hosts back. However, unlike at Sandy Park earlier in the season, it was relatively comfortable for the Men in Black even after Jacques Burger’s high tackle saw the flanker’s afternoon end prematurely by spending the remainder of the match in the cooler.

The 14 men even added to their tally when Hodgson plugged his third penalty for a quiet end to the afternoon, a repeat of which will be more than welcome next week at Bath.

Saracens: Ransom, Ashton, Tomkins (Streather), Barritt (Bosch), Wyles, Hodgson, Wigglesworth (De Kock), Barrington, Brits (George), Johnston (Du Plessis), Kruis, Botha (Borthwick), Wray, Brown (Burger), Joubert

Unused replacements: Auterac

Referee: Wayne Barnes

Attendance: 8,114

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Kevin Wimmer:

Tottenham defender Kevin Wimmer is yet to concede a goal in the Premier League since replacing Jan Vertonghen – and he is aiming to keep it that way as he prepares to face Sergio Aguero in Sunday’s title showdown at Manchester City.

05:28
Junior Gunners

Arsenal head up to Manchester United later this month for what is always one of the most eagerly awaited clashes of any season.

09:00
Left to right: Gareth Davies, Max Hanson, Joe Northover, head coach Paul Doyle, Renat Samur, Alex Vonckx, Max Green

Haringey Aquatics teenager Renat Samur recorded a double as the club collected a total of five gold medals at the ASA Middlesex Age Group Championships.

08:30
Back row (left to right): John Beckett, Joe Bruce, Wyn Bliss, George Everitt, Nick Corbett, Joe Beckett. Front row: Joel Robb, Ben Miller, Alfie Buxton

Haringey’s Under-13 indoor cricket side narrowly missed out on qualifying for the finals of the London Youth Games at Harrow Leisure Centre on Saturday.

08:00
Charlie Hodgson kicked three penalties in Saracens' victory over Exeter on Sunday. Pic: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall is confident his current squad can maintain the club’s momentum at the top of the table, despite the absence of key international stars due to the Six Nations.

Yesterday, 15:49
Matt Botha scored Hampstead & Westminster's goal. Pic: Mark Clews

Hampstead & Westminster’s men returned from the winter break with a 3-1 home defeat against basement boys Canterbury, leaving them one point outside the bottom two in the Premier Division.

Yesterday, 15:41
Left to right: Amir Castronovo, Gabriele Giovannoni, Alexis Lambropoulos, Ella McEver, Marlie Rittenhouse, Julia Murphy and Ally Dill

Eleven-year-old rising star Brandon Biss led the way as Camden Swiss Cottage picked up 68 medals over three weekends of racing in the County Championships.

Yesterday, 15:38
Hendon's man of the match Harry Charles. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hendon progressed to the quarter-finals of the Middlesex Vase after coming from behind to beat Millfield Old Boys 40-21 in a rollercoaster encounter.

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe