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Exeter salute penalty king Steenson

Gareth Steenson was lauded for his "remarkable" role in the 27-19 victory that Exeter enjoyed at the expense of Saracens at Sandy Park.

The fly-half kicked nine penalties from nine attempts to give Exeter their notable success, which lifted them to second place in the Aviva Premiership.

Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher said: "There is no-one I'd rather have than Gareth in those situations. He's meticulous in his preparations and under that pressure it's remarkable how he holds it all together."

Steenson was Exeter's sole points scorer and his precision rewarded a fiercely committed performance from the home pack.

In response an out-of-sorts Saracens could only manage a last-minute consolation try from replacement Maro Itoje, converted by Ben Spencer, to add to four Charlie Hodgson kicking four penalties.

Exeter were thoroughly deserved winners and Hepher explained the home side had carefully planned their approach to the match.

"Saracens are very strong defensively and they have a strong kicking game. We decided to play them at their own game," Hepher said.

"It was a fantastic performance from our pack as we were able to squeeze them. Conditions dictated the game and we were very smart and disciplined."

Exeter's rise to second place has come on the back of some fine wins.

"To beat Northampton was very important for us," Hepher said. "We were worried that we would sit back on that win but today's effort shows we are in good shape as we continue to put in some quality performances against some quality sides."

Exeter now face tough away games at Sale and Bath when the Premiership resumes in a fortnight's time but Hepher is optimistic that the Chiefs can continue their run.

"We are not the finished product and we have to work harder to maintain our position of second," he said. "We have put on some good displays when we've been on the road."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall was unhappy with his side's effort.

"We are hugely disappointed with our performance overall. We were second best and at this level of rugby, you need solid foundations and Exeter's foundations were better than us today," McCall said.

Saracens' scrum was placed under considerable pressure, especially in the first half, which ended with beleaguered prop James Johnston being yellow-carded.

McCall said: "Exeter got the upper hand, particularly at the scrum which is an area for us to acknowledge. They took advantage of that superiority and it got them a lot of field position during the game.

"We were on the back foot for most of the game. There were so many kicks in the game that there were hardly any line-outs so the scrum was a big factor.

"Exeter don't just have Gareth but (Henry) Slade there as well. They kicked the ball very well today. We made some individual errors in the back field that we would not normally do.

"They got some penalties which, coupled with their scrum superiority and field position, was the game."

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