Anglo Welsh Cup: Exeter 43 Saracens 20
PUBLISHED: 10:46 04 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:46 04 February 2018
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Exeter progressed to the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals with a convincing bonus-point victory over Saracens at Sandy Park.
The Chiefs superior try-count pipped Harlequins to top Pool Two and last year’s runners-up are now likely to face Newcastle in the semi-finals.
The hosts had much the stronger side on paper as Saracens were forced to include three guests in their matchday 23 and Exeter proved the point by scoring seven tries.
Ollie Devoto and Tom O’Flaherty both scored twice with Moray Low, Paul Davis and Jack Maunder getting one apiece and Joe Simmonds converting four.
Tom Whiteley, Max Malins, Tom Lindsay and Rotimi Segun scored tries for Saracens but the winners in 2015 ended their campaign with only one victory in Pool Three.
Exeter suffered an early blow when their lock, Ollie Atkins, was helped from the field with a leg injury but they overcame this setback to take the lead.
Drives from Thomas Waldrom and Greg Holmes put the visiting defence on the back foot before a floated pass gave O’Flaherty an easy run-in.
It was all Exeter in the opening period and it came as no surprise when they scored two tries in quick succession.
First from a five-metre scrum, Devoto brushed through Malins’ tackle to score then Low crashed over from close range after the visitors lost a line-out in their own 22.
After 20 minutes Saracens got onto the scoreboard when Whiteley dotted down.
But Exeter’s new recruit, Argentina international wing Santiago Cordero, then illustrated why he had signed from Jaguares by neatly side-stepping two players to set up a try for Maunder.
The fast-paced nature of the half continued with two further tries for Saracens.
First, Segun skilfully avoided tackles from Maunder and Simmonds to sneak over in the corner before Malin forced his way over to leave his side trailing 26-15 at the interval.
Saracens brought on Alex Lozowski for the second half in place of the lively Segun, but Exeter secured victory when Devoto again powered over from a five-metre scrum before O’Flaherty also scored his second, benefiting from a well-timed pass from Phil Dollman.
With 10 minutes remaining Low was yellow-carded and Saracens capitalised with a try from Lindsay, but the hosts had the final say when Davis finished off a driving line-out.