Chiefs 24 Saracens 12

The effects of the 'Beast from the East' and 'Storm Emma' may have melted away as quickly as it came, but Exeter Chiefs showed they are more longer lasting in terms of their title defence as they extended their lead at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

Rob Baxter's side are now seven points clear of Wasps at the summit after they saw off fellow play-off contenders Saracens 24-14 with a hard-fought display at Sandy Park.

Three first half penalties from fly-half Joe Simmonds, plus a try from full-back Phil Dollman, gave the hosts a slender 14-12 advantage at the break as the visitors countered with tries from Ben Earl and Schalk Brits, one of which was converted by Ben Spencer.

However, a disciplined and well-executed second half display saw the reigning champions extend their lead with a fourth Simmonds penalty, before the combined efforts of the home pack generated a deserved penalty try in the final ten minutes.

Having returned to not only winning ways, but also top spot in the division with victory over Northampton Saints last time out, the Chiefs were hoping to extend their advantage against Mark McCall's men.

Ahead of kick-off, Baxter made six changes in personnel, drafting in Tomas Francis and Dave Ewers up front, while behind Nic White and Joe Simmonds formed a new half-back pairing, Henry Slade returned in the centre for the first time since January, while Dollman was entrusted with the anchor role.

Saracens, meanwhile, were without 18 of their first team squad for various reasons, but their line-up still oozed class and experience aplenty as they looked to bounce back from defeat against Leicester Tigers seven days earlier. They brought into their side lock George Kruis, who had been released in the week by England, plus young back-row forward Earl for his maiden Premiership start.

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