On so-called ‘Star Wars Day’, Exeter Chiefs felt the full force of the Gallagher Premiership’s Dark Lords as Saracens powered their way to all five points in this top of the table battle at Allianz Park.
Mark McCall’s side not only cut Exeter’s lead at the summit to just four points with one round of the regular season remaining, but they revved up for next week’s Champions Cup Final with a confidence-boosting display that yielded five tries.
Alex Lewington’s converted try was all that separated the two rivals at the break, after which the home side ran riot with a second for Lewington, one for Nick Tompkins, before replacement Dom Morris claimed a brace himself to put the seal on an impressive performance.
The Chiefs offered a decent resistance for large parts of the contest, but their scant reward was a converted try for England Under-20s youngster Richard Capstick.
With both sides already assured of home advantage in the end of season play-offs later this month, it came as no real surprise when both coaches announced ahead of kick-off a string of changes to their normal frontline personnel.
Saracens – with one eye on next weekend’s European encounter against Leinster in Newcastle – rested the majority of their ‘Galaticos’, including the likes of England stars Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, Alex Goode and the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy.
Equally, it was a day of opportunity for a number of the Chiefs first-team squad, Baxter handing first-ever Premiership starts to both Josh Caulfield and Richard Capstick in the pack, while behind the experienced Phil Dollman was recalled for his first league start since February on this his 150th top flight appearance.
The Welshman was afforded the honour of leading the Devonians into battle, whilst on the other side it was a chance for the home faithful to give a final Allianz Park to international duo Schalk Burger and Marcelo Bosch, both of whom will be retiring at the end of the season.
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