Saracens score four tries in bonus-point 31-11 victory over Exeter Chiefs in first Premiership match at Allianz Park

Charlie Hodgson kicked 11 points from the tee to help Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs 31-11 in their first match at Allianz Park. Picture: Action Images

Charlie Hodgson kicked 11 points from the tee to help Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs 31-11 in their first match at Allianz Park. Picture: Action Images

First published in Saracens
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Charlie Hodgson scored the first Premiership try at Allianz Park and kicked a further 11 points from the tee to ensure Saracens got off to a winning start at their new home, beating Exeter Chiefs 31-11.

Saracens took a while to settle into their new surroundings but left a messy first half display behind them in the second period as two Mako Vunipola tries and another from Matt Stevens added to Hodgson’s first half score to cap an imperious second half performance.

Mouritz Botha and Will Fraser both returned to the Saracens starting line-up but Mark McCall’s men still needed to prove themselves able to deal without several stars away on Six Nations duty.

And the early signs were not encouraging as Saracens were – just as they were against London Irish last week - guilty of trying to convert possession into points too quickly.

Allianz Park’s artificial surface is supposed to be more conducive to rugby’s more eye-catching aspects but the first half was strewn with handling errors and misplaced passes.

Hodgson created the hosts’ first opportunity, charging down Gareth Steenson’s attempted clearance before releasing Joel Tomkins out wide but the outside centre’s pass to James Short hit the floor and danger was averted.

The sloppiness wasn’t just in the hands though as Hodgson, usually so dependable from the tee, skewed three straightforward penalties wide of the mark and Steenson was guilty too, missing one of his own at the other end.

In between Hodgson’s kicking woes Luke Arscott was sin-binned for Exeter and Saracens were having the better of the game, dominating up front and looking threatening through midfield.

It was the visitors though who broke the stadium’s Premiership points duck with Steenson slotting home a penalty in the 24th minute to put Exeter 3-0 ahead.

If Hodgson’s right foot was out of tune however, the veteran’s distribution was as rhythmic as ever, as he released Tomkins for another break down the left before taking matters into his own hands and bursting through the Exeter defence for a Saracens try just after half an hour.

Hodgson converted his own score to establish a 7-3 advantage and, with his kicking troubles seemingly behind him, it was the turn of Steenson to lose his radar as he skewed two penalties wide before the break.

Saracens were as dominant in the second half though as they were sloppy in the first and Hodgson extended the home side’s advantage to seven with a penalty three minutes into the second half and six minutes later Sarries made their pressure pay with a second try.

Showing a patience lacking for so much of the first 40 minutes, Saracens waited for their opportunity from close range and Stevens duly touched down before Hodgson added the extras to make it 17-3.

Steenson reduced the deficit by three but within five minutes Saracens were in again – this time Mako Vunipola the man on hand to bundle his way over for the Men in Black’s third score to put Exeter out of sight.

Hodgson, having seemingly rediscovered his shooting boots, kicked his third conversion out of three to take the score to 24-6.

Ferocious in the pack, Saracens were relentless at the breakdown and it wasn't long before Vunipola scored his second and Saracens’ fourth try to put the result well beyond doubt.

There was still time for an Exeter consolation late on as Richard Baxter went over in what was their first meaningful attack of the half but the damage had already been done and Saracens got off to the perfect start at Allianz Park with a comfortable bonus-point victory.

Saracens will be hoping to carry their second half performance into next weekend when they travel to Leicester Tigers.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles 14 James Short 13 Joel Tomkins 12 Adam Powell 11 David Strettle 10 Charlie Hodgson 9 Neil de Kock 1 Mako Vunipola 2 John Smit 3 Matt Stevens 4 Steve Borthwick © 5 Mouritz Botha 6 Jackson Wray 7 Will Fraser 8 Ernst Joubert

Replacements: 16 Jamie George 17 Nick Auterac 18 Petrus du Plessis 19 Alistair Hargreaves 20 Justin Melck 21 Richard Wigglesworth 22 Nils Mordt 23 Joe Maddock

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott 14 Jack Nowell 13 Ian Whitten 12 Jason Shoemark 11 Matt Jess 10 Gareth Steenson 9 Will Chudley 1 Ben Moon 2 Neil Clark 3 Hoani Tui 4 Dean Mumm 5 Damian Welch 6 Richard Baxter (capt) 7 James Scaysbrook 8 Kai Horstmann

Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle 17 Carl Rimmer 18 Alex Brown 19 Tom Hayes 20 Aly Muldowney 21 Haydn Thomas 22 Ignacio Mieres 23 Phil Dollman

Comments (7)

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10:34am Mon 18 Feb 13

DannyMan says...

So, RedRenault, the first game with a capacity crowd. How was it for you? Any problems you were aware of? (Genuine question, not a wind-up, I'm really interested to know how you found it - and nor am I fishing for an opportunity to say "I told you so").
So, RedRenault, the first game with a capacity crowd. How was it for you? Any problems you were aware of? (Genuine question, not a wind-up, I'm really interested to know how you found it - and nor am I fishing for an opportunity to say "I told you so"). DannyMan
  • Score: 1

10:46am Mon 18 Feb 13

redrenault says...

Great start .. Fans & Drivers relieving themselves in the bushes .. Rubbish strewn everywhere.. Cars parked on grass verges so as to avoid double yellow lines down Champion way whilst chewing up the grass verges. Non residents parking any where they like & ignoring signs and hardly any wardens around. Impossible to use the other facilities on site with saracen fans taking all spaces in the car parks. It does not help when marshals say " yeah mate just park in the pool car park and say you are going for a swim !" is not exactly helping build local support. The idea is that people use all the facilities.. not being able to use public facilities during the busiest times is pathetic. I can see now the gradual erosion of other businesses on site and the surprise new planning going in for the 15000 seat stadium. The team need to get more people using public transport as there are simply not enough spaces on site or at immediate sites.
Great start .. Fans & Drivers relieving themselves in the bushes .. Rubbish strewn everywhere.. Cars parked on grass verges so as to avoid double yellow lines down Champion way whilst chewing up the grass verges. Non residents parking any where they like & ignoring signs and hardly any wardens around. Impossible to use the other facilities on site with saracen fans taking all spaces in the car parks. It does not help when marshals say " yeah mate just park in the pool car park and say you are going for a swim !" is not exactly helping build local support. The idea is that people use all the facilities.. not being able to use public facilities during the busiest times is pathetic. I can see now the gradual erosion of other businesses on site and the surprise new planning going in for the 15000 seat stadium. The team need to get more people using public transport as there are simply not enough spaces on site or at immediate sites. redrenault
  • Score: -1

11:08am Mon 18 Feb 13

DannyMan says...

Interesting. Have you sent your views to the club? n.b. there is no planning application for 15,000 seats.
Interesting. Have you sent your views to the club? n.b. there is no planning application for 15,000 seats. DannyMan
  • Score: 1

11:18am Mon 18 Feb 13

redrenault says...

The team wanted to get the cup game to be played at copthall .. they didnt have a change of heart it s just there was no time to do the 28 day consultation and book Wembley or Twickenham hence didnt bother. What is worrying is that SUDDENLY the current stand is able to have its roof removed and have another 5000 seats added withinn a few days. What clever thinking and foresight. Just on the off chance an opportunity may arise for the need of more space. No special one-offs should be allowed as that has not be agreed or approved..end of.
The team wanted to get the cup game to be played at copthall .. they didnt have a change of heart it s just there was no time to do the 28 day consultation and book Wembley or Twickenham hence didnt bother. What is worrying is that SUDDENLY the current stand is able to have its roof removed and have another 5000 seats added withinn a few days. What clever thinking and foresight. Just on the off chance an opportunity may arise for the need of more space. No special one-offs should be allowed as that has not be agreed or approved..end of. redrenault
  • Score: -1

4:09pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Rog T says...

Redrenault is talking nonsense. I jogged around Mill Hill on Saturday and saw dozens of cars with parking tickets. I counted seven in a row in Woodlands Way, off the Broadway. I spoke to one rather old lady who was extremely distressed to receive a ticket. She hadn't heard of the CPZ and said she'd always parked there on a Saturday. She said the signage was useless.

The wardens were extremely busy in local roads. It was pretty clear to me that the cars with tickets were local residents who clearly had no interest in the rugby.

I didn't attend the event but I do know locals who did and they certainly didnt witness the behaviour Redrenault reported. I think we've got to keep it in perspective. The ground redevelopment could be a good thing for Mill Hill, but Barnet Council are in danger of alienating people with their parking scheme.
Redrenault is talking nonsense. I jogged around Mill Hill on Saturday and saw dozens of cars with parking tickets. I counted seven in a row in Woodlands Way, off the Broadway. I spoke to one rather old lady who was extremely distressed to receive a ticket. She hadn't heard of the CPZ and said she'd always parked there on a Saturday. She said the signage was useless. The wardens were extremely busy in local roads. It was pretty clear to me that the cars with tickets were local residents who clearly had no interest in the rugby. I didn't attend the event but I do know locals who did and they certainly didnt witness the behaviour Redrenault reported. I think we've got to keep it in perspective. The ground redevelopment could be a good thing for Mill Hill, but Barnet Council are in danger of alienating people with their parking scheme. Rog T
  • Score: 1

5:29pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Richard Logue says...

I attended the match, walked from my house on Hammers Lane. I walked through Wise Lane and Featherstone Road and didn't see any cars parked illegally. The crowd control from Powerleague down past the pool to the stadium entrance worked as well. Could redrenault contact the Mill Hill Residents association at millhillresidents@gm
ail.com and I will be happy to investigate his experiences further?
I attended the match, walked from my house on Hammers Lane. I walked through Wise Lane and Featherstone Road and didn't see any cars parked illegally. The crowd control from Powerleague down past the pool to the stadium entrance worked as well. Could redrenault contact the Mill Hill Residents association at millhillresidents@gm ail.com and I will be happy to investigate his experiences further? Richard Logue
  • Score: 1

8:38am Wed 20 Feb 13

DannyMan says...

Richard, RR doesn't say these were his experiences. Sounds like a montage assembled from the most exaggerated gossip and hearsay which he was able to (gleefully) garner. On my route from MHB to Allianz Park and back again I saw nothing untoward whatsoever, and I daresay that the restaurant on MHB where we had lunch was grateful for the small boost to its usual Saturday lunchtime takings.

You'd have to be pretty dozy not to see the CPZ signage (was perfectly in evidence to me, from the footpaths) but the second-hand evidence I have been given is that lots of vehicles (including those showing permits) received informational notices rather than tickets, and next time those without permits will get tickets.
Richard, RR doesn't say these were his experiences. Sounds like a montage assembled from the most exaggerated gossip and hearsay which he was able to (gleefully) garner. On my route from MHB to Allianz Park and back again I saw nothing untoward whatsoever, and I daresay that the restaurant on MHB where we had lunch was grateful for the small boost to its usual Saturday lunchtime takings. You'd have to be pretty dozy not to see the CPZ signage (was perfectly in evidence to me, from the footpaths) but the second-hand evidence I have been given is that lots of vehicles (including those showing permits) received informational notices rather than tickets, and next time those without permits will get tickets. DannyMan
  • Score: 1

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