By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Saracens head coach Joe Shaw defended prop Mako Vunipola after he was shown the first red card of his career in a 34-14 win against Newcastle Falcons.

Vunipola’s dismissal was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect day for the league leaders, who picked up all five points in Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby season.

Alex Lewington and Kapeli Pifeleti crossed inside the first nine minutes of the tie and scores from Alex Lozowski and Max Malins secured the bonus point before the break, with Sarries ahead 26-0 at half time.

Loosehead Vunipola was then sent off for use of the shoulder in a ruck but that did not stop rampant Saracens who scored their fifth and final try through the league’s top try-scorer Malins.

Jamie Blamire and Mateo Carreras then crossed for what proved to be no more than a consolation for the home side as Saracens unbeaten start continued.

Post-match, Shaw argued that Vunipola’s clean disciplinary record speaks for itself, though he suggested it would be an anxious wait to hear the length of his suspension. 

"The first thing about Mako is that he is not a dirty player," said Shaw.

"That's his first red card which, considering the amount of games he's played, says something. It was reckless but we’ll see what happens in the coming days."

Saracens have now won each of their last 21 fixtures against the north-east side, a run that stretches back to 2009.

And thanks to a relentless first-half display, that impressive record never looked in doubt.

"We had the conditions with us in that first half and that gave us a strong position," said Shaw. "I'm pleased with how we were able to manage the game and how we went about our business on both sides of the ball.

"It's never easy to come here, and to go 14 points up inside the first 10 minutes certainly made things a bit easier for us against a well-coached side and players with a lot of grit.

"It's easy to look at our attack, but I thought our defence, especially in that first 40 minutes, was terrific. It was the most impressive part of the game."

One player who has impressed hugely since the start of the season is scrum-half Ivan van Zyl, who has shone in the absence of last season's first-choice No.9 Aled Davies.

And though Saracens have collected the maximum 20 points available from their first four outings, the South African hopes they can find another gear, starting with the visit of Bath Rugby on Saturday. 

"Second half, we let it slip, that’s not our standard and we’ll work on that and keep on improving," he said.

"That’s something that we’ll work on, making sure that next week when we take on Bath, we’ll be ready for a full 80-minute performance.

"The goal is to improve every single game, that’s the target at this stage. The competition is still so long but we’re really happy with the start and to keep on improving and keep on building each week.

"The most important thing for us now as a team is to keep on getting better, and that’s what we’ll do."