Match Report: Storm 26-7 Exeter Braves
Saracens Storm made it three bonus-point wins from three with victory over top-of-the-table Exeter Braves at Allianz Park.
The Men in Black leapfrogged their opponents in the Premiership Rugby Shield Southern Conference courtesy of two Charlie Watson tries, a penalty try and Elliott Obatoyinbo’s late finish.
The visitors had started the brighter and earned the game’s first points when Patrick Schickerling crashed over on six minutes.
Two huge Obatoyinbo hits sparked some go-forward for Sarries and Adam Powell’s side replied swiftly to claw themselves back to within two points following Harvey Skinner’s conversion.
Manu Vunipola’s deft grubber to the left was scampered on to by Watson who acrobatically dotted down with one hand whilst successfully staying in-field.
Storm continued in the ascendency, however were thwarted by a strong Braves defence forcing Vunipola to attempt a drop goal which faded wide.
It wasn’t long until they did go ahead. Tom Woolstencroft barged his way inches from the whitewash and when he was hauled down, Tom Whiteley’s pinpoint flat pass found Watson who powered home.
Scrum-half Whiteley was instrumental in Storm almost grabbing a third on the half-hour. The skipper weaved his way through the Exeter backline and fed Obatoyinbo on a trot. The winger cut inside only to be taken out high by James Short when he looked certain to score. Short received a yellow card but no penalty try was awarded.
The referee did run under the sticks moments later though. Saracens’ dominance up front forced Braves to illegally stop the hosts on their own line and it proved cynical enough for the official.
In the second period, Richard Barrington and Woolstencroft showcased delightful handling as the Wolfpack hunted for their fourth.
Joel Kpoku also led the charge on several occasions but he was sent to the bin and Obatoyinbo followed suit to leave Storm with 13 men.
Exeter enjoyed a lot of possession thereafter and the like of Sean Reffell, Callum Hunter-Hill and Josh Hallett were on their A game to prevent any damage.
Back to their full contingent late on, Sarries sealed the win and with it a bonus. Vunipola’s crosskick was almost taken by Skinner who would have raced away to make the last few minutes interesting.
The Braves fly-half dropped the ball and Watson picked up to send a looping ball to Obatoyinbo to dance over for a deserved effort.