There were two Aviva Premiership ties played yesterday with a comfortable win for Saracens and a single point victory for Gloucester away at Exeter.
Saracens 22 London Irish 6
Sarries were always in control at home to London Irish, despite the challenging wet and windy conditions experienced at Allianz Park, building up an 11-0 advantage by half-time and running out convincing winners at the end. A solid defensive display limited the Exiles to just two penalties over the eighty minutes from the boot of Tom Homer, who briefly gave them hope at the start of the second-half. Saracens crossed their opponents’ line twice thanks to a brace of tries from former England winger, David Strettle. His second try and the four penalties converted by fly-half Owen Farrell, ensuring they always remained just too far ahead of the away side and took a solid if not breathtaking victory.
Back-rower Billy Vunipola staked his claims for an England recall after being dropped for the autumn internationals against Samoa and Australia, both of which England won, with a strong display of impressive ball carrying and dynamism. He caused problems for the Irish throughout and drew strong praise from their director of #Rugby, Brian Smith, afterwards.
‘Concussion’ devices (called the ‘xPatch’) that have been produced by a company in America were worn behind the ears of the Saracens’ players during the game, to launch a new initiative designed to aid in research into concussion, something that has been a concern in the game over recent times. The device is designed to provide data on the size and angle of head hits.
Exeter 25 Gloucester 26
A topsy-turvy contest between the Chiefs and Gloucester saw the lead exchange hands many times at Sandy Park, but it was the ‘Cherry and Whites’ who ultimately took a narrow victory. They held a 6-0 lead going into half-time through Scottish international, Greig Laidlaw’s two successful penalties and then went further in front as England centre Billy Twelvetrees showed his versatility with a drop-goal.
Jack Nowell and Matt Jess then scored tries for Exeter to give them the lead, but they were behind again after Tom Savage and Ben Morgan replied in kind with tries for Gloucester. Exeter thought that they would sneak the win at the end after the ever reliable Thomas Waldrom scored yet another try this season, but Gareth Steenson missed the conversion to deny them their first win in three attempts.