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Aviva Premiership match report - Saracens claim bonus point win over Exeter
Saracens celebrated the first Aviva Premiership game at their new Allianz Park home with a resounding 31-11 triumph over a struggling Exeter.
Having seen their eight-match unbeaten run end at the hands of London Irish Sarries bounced back to winning ways in emphatic fashion, claiming a bonus point in the first league fixture to be played on an artificial turf pitch.
Charlie Hodgson touched down while props Matt Stevens and Mako Vunipola, who marked his return from England duty with a brace, also crossed.
Such a scoreline didn't look on the cards at half time when the hosts only led 7-3, though the margin could have been much more if Hodgson had not been so profligate off the tee.
The experienced fly-half failed with three attempts at the posts in the opening 40 minutes, the last of his misses coming after full-back Ben Ransom's break had resulted in opposite number Luke Arscott being sin-binned for coming in at the side.
In the end the former Sale Shark decided the best way to put points on the board was to just cross the try-line, quick ball from a ruck allowing him to dummy his way through a huge hole in the Exeter line.
Having kicked a penalty to break the deadlock in the 25th minute, Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson missed the chance to close the gap right before the interval when he pushed a three-pointer wide.
Hodgson seemed to find his kicking boots in the changing room at half time as he landed a 43rd minute penalty to extend the gap before they put the game beyond their opponents with two quick-fire tries from a pair of unlikely scorers.
Exeter's failure to secure line-out ball near their own line led to Stevens ploughing over and although Steenson popped up with a penalty at the other end, Vunipola's maiden Premiership try put the game beyond the visitors.
Just like London buses, the Wellington-born front-rower didn't have too long to wait for his second. A smart offload from winger David Strettle put his team-mate into enough space on the left to force his way through.
To their credit, the Chiefs continued to fight to the death, flanker Richard Baxter tumbling over the line from a ruck to give them a consolation try. Steenson converted to round out the scoring, but it couldn't take the gloss off a thoroughly enjoyable homecoming for Sarries.
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|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com