Sarries continue to soar
PREMIERSHIP SUNDAY WRAP: Defending Aviva Premiership champions Saracens continued their 100 percent start to the new season as Alex Lozowski inspired his side to a hard-fought 34-13 bonus point win at Exeter.
All of the talk at Saracens this week has been about the fitness of England flyhalf Owen Farrell ahead of the autumn internationals but in his absence stand-in Lozowski is sparkling for his new club. After playing the chief role of architect of Worcester's demolition in the opener, Lozowski was up to his old tricks again in the West Country.
Northampton promised to right the wrongs of their Premiership opening day loss against Bath and they did just that with an emphatic 32-10 win against newly promoted Bristol.
Andy Robinson's men did little to derail Northampton, producing a hugely ill-disciplined performance and giving away countless penalties as the Saints ran in four tries to secure the bonus point through George North, Louis Picamoles, Ken Pisi and Mike Haywood.
All Sunday's scores and scorers!
Bristol 10-32 Northampton Saints
On four minutes ill-discipline handed Stephen Myler the opportunity to put Northampton ahead with a penalty. While just four minutes later things got worse for Bristol as Welsh international North strolled over in the corner following an offload from England skipper Dylan Hartley for the game's opening try. Myler was unable to add the extras.
Tusi Pisi reduced the arrears for Bristol to 3-8 with a penalty for the home side as Robinson's men started to get a foothold in the game. Bristol have played five previous matches at Ashton Gate, winning three and losing two but in the opening stages it looked unlikely that statistic would be added to.
Picamoles was next to go over for Northampton on 18 minutes as the Saints rumbled over from close range. The decision was referred to the TMO and after a delay the try was awarded and Myler added the extras.
Bristol felt hard done by on 21 minutes as Northampton scored their third try of the game, this time K Pisi going over in the corner but replays showed the Saints' centre had put a foot into touch. To make matters worse Myler added the conversion to move Northampton into a comfortable 25-3 lead before the break.
Northampton had not lost both of their opening two encounters in the Premiership since the inaugural season in 1997 and after their electric start against Bristol this statistic never looked like being repeated.
Bristol started the second half strongly and nearly scored within minutes of the restart as Tom Varndell flew down the line but he was bundled into touch just two metres short of the Northampton line. The home side got back into the game 11 minutes into the second half.
Ross McMillan going over under the posts to reward their dominance after the break, with Pisi adding the extras to leave the score at 25-10.
The penalty count improved after the break, with Bristol enjoying the bulk of possession and territory but they were unable to bridge the scoreboard gap. Northampton added the bonus point score in the final minute of the game as Mike Haywood went over for the Saints, with Harry Mallinder adding the extras to leave the final score at 32-10.
Con: T Pisi
Pen: T Pisi
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: North, Picamoles, K Pisi, Haywood
Cons: Myler 2, Mallinder
Pens: Myler 2
Bristol: 15 Jack Wallace, 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Jack Lam (captain), 6 Jon Fisher, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Ross McMillan, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 James Phillips, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Mitch Eadie, 22 Rhodri Williams, 23 Adrian Jarvis.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (captain), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Campese Ma'afu, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Ben Foden.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Exeter Chiefs 13-34 Saracens
Lozowski opened the scoring for Saracens with a solo try that included a powerful hand-off against Exeter flyhalf Henry Slade on four minutes and the defending champions never looked back. Alex Goode added the extras for McCall's men.
Slade missed a penalty on 11 minutes to reduce the arrears, adding to an earlier miss for Saracens on two minutes from Marcelo Bosch. From a driving maul after a line-out just before the 20 minute mark, things got even worse for Exeter.
After Jamie George was held up just short of the line, the ball was recycled quickly and wing Sean Maitland went over in the corner, with Goode this time missing the conversion, to make the score 12-0.
Having kicked off their latest Aviva Premiership campaign with a 25-20 loss at Wasps last weekend, Exeter were hoping for an immediate riposte against the star-studded Londoners but they struggled to get going early on.
Exeter finally got on the scoreboard just before the half hour mark when Slade scored a penalty from bang in front of the posts to make the score 12-3. Despite reducing the deficit, it was frustrating for Exeter they didn't get more of their appearance in the Sarries 22 after a series of attacks were just held up short by Saracens.
Richard Wigglesworth was needlessly sin-binned on 33 minutes for a reckless tackle on Slade, the England scrumhalf using his legs to trip the Exeter flyhalf. And the error was further punished as Slade knocked over the long range penalty to drag Exeter back to within six points of McCall's Saracens.
With the numerical advantage, Exeter suddenly sprang into life in the final minutes of the half and replacement Max Bodilly thought he had scored in the corner for the Chiefs but Lozowski somehow got back to make a try-saving tackle.
Saracens started the second half strongly with Billy Vunipola particularly prominent with a series of carries but the visitors were unable to capitalise on their dominance, with a kick through by Brad Barritt dealt with expertly by Exeter.
Sarries thought they had extended their lead on 48 minutes but England prop Mako Vunipola was bundled into touch as he dived over in the corner. The champions stretched their lead on 53 minutes as Goode launched a long range penalty to make the score 15-6, while it could have been worse had the England fullback not missed another shot at goal just minutes later.
Saracens scored their third try of the game on 58 minutes as Maitland went over in the corner. A series of powerful drives by the Sarries forward pack, followed by quick hands and a clever Lozowski offload created the opening for Maitland, with Goode adding the extras off the tee.
And Saracens added their fourth try of the afternoon just minutes later as Vunipola powered off the base of the scrum, steamrollered two Exeter defenders but offloading to Wray to score in the corner. Goode missed with the conversion.
Exeter got their first try of the afternoon on 69 minutes as Luke Cowan-Dickie bundled his way over for a score after a series of short drives, with replacement Gareth Steenson adding the extras for the Chiefs.
And Saracens added the gloss to their performance with a fifth score as a wayward pass found its way to Ben Spencer in added time, with Goode adding the extras for a 34-13 win.
For Exeter Chiefs:
Pens: Slade 2
Tries: Lozowski, George, Maitland, Wray, Spencer
Cons: Goode 3
Yellow card: Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 31)
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Geoff Parling (captain), 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Max Bodilly.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Michael Rhodes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Mike Ellery.
Referee: JP Doyle