Exeter Chiefs and Saracens continued their preparations for Round 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup in less than two weeks by stretching their 100% starts to the Gallagher Premiership season to eight games.
Furthermore, they marched 14 points clear at the top of the English table without the services of a string of internationals, who took the opportunity to shine for their countries on Saturday.
However, while Exeter, currently bottom in Pool 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup, warmed up for their Round 3 home tie against Gloucester Rugby with a comfortable 23-6 win over the Cherry and Whites at Sandy Park on Saturday, Saracens had to fight hard for a 27-22 triumph at Leicester Tigers on Sunday.
The Pool 3 leaders resisted a fierce comeback by Leicester, who lie second in Pool 4, from 21-3 down at the break, scrum-half Ben Spencer leading the way with 17 points from a try, three conversions and two penalties.
🎥 REACTION | @max_malins7 assesses a pulsating and dramatic victory ❗️
"We really had to dig deep but we got the result in the end" pic.twitter.com/7SqBzFy0d6
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) November 25, 2018
The day before, Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell, wings Liam Williams and Sean Maitland had all contributed to their countries’ home victories.
Farrell notched 22 points in England’s 37-18 win over Australia with a try, four conversions and three penalties, while Williams and Maitland touched down for Wales and Scotland respectively in their 20-11 and 14-9 successes against South Africa and Argentina.
Williams, selected at full-back on Saturday, was joined on the Wales scoresheet by Exeter prop Tomas Francis, whose try was his first in 36 Tests.
Earlier, Francis’ Chiefs team-mates had laid down the gauntlet to Gloucester prior to their Heineken Champions Cup double header on December 8 and 14, scrum-half Nic White and wing Alex Cuthbert getting Exeter’s tries and fly-half Gareth Steenson kicking 13 points.
🏉 – Winger @acuthbert11 says there is more to come from @ExeterChiefs despite maintaining unbeaten record in @premrugby with home win over @gloucesterrugby ⬇️https://t.co/R0sWdfENh3 pic.twitter.com/MiYynBy7BW
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) November 25, 2018
Leicester, who visit Racing 92 on December 9, will look forward to the return of wing Jonny May and Australian utility back Matt Toomua, after they both featured on the Twickenham scoresheet, May with a try for England and Toomua with eight points for the Wallabies.