Aviva Premiership

Sarries show steel to stay on top

Saracens showed tremendous character on Sunday as they came from behind to beat Exeter Chiefs 14-11 and retain top spot in the Premiership.

A full house at Sandy Park saw Saracens overcome an 11-point deficit to beat their nearest rivals in a fixture played in strong winds.

Exeter had not been beaten at home since January 2015 and forged ahead as two Gareth Steenson penalties sandwiched an interception score from wing James Short.

Charlie Hodgson threw the pass that Short telegraphed before racing 80 metres to touch down.

However, the former England fly-half proved Saracens' match-winner, popping over three second-half penalties after Samuela Vunisa's fourth try in as many matches had boosted the visitors prior to half-time.

Hodgson's decisive three-pointer came as a result of Exeter being penalised for offside when a Steenson kick was charged down and the ball ricocheted into the arms of another Chiefs player. 

Both sides were missing players due to Six Nations duty, although Saracens - without the likes of Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola - were at least boosted by the second-half introduction of Maro Itoje, who had been hurried back from Edinburgh after watching England's victory over Scotland on Saturday.

"We probably weren't the favourites coming in today," Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth told BT Sport in a nod to his side's numerous absentees.

"We had a lot of lads away with England, but we stuck together. I think we managed the conditions really well."

Sunday's other Premiership match featured two sides at the other end of the table. London Irish climbed off the bottom at Newcastle Falcons' expense with a 20-13 home victory over 10th-placed Worcester Warriors.