Gareth Steenson added 15 points with the boot as Chiefs extended their unbeaten record at Sandy Park
1 December 2012, 07:45 pm ::
By Ben Baker
Exeter Chiefs 30 London Wasps 23
Exeter Chiefs made it five wins from five Aviva Premiership games at Sandy Park with a hard-fought 30-23 win over a dogged London Wasps side.
The Chiefs, who recorded their first league away win of the season last week at London Irish, rode home to victory with tries from Chris Whitehead, Haydn Thomas and Phil Dollman.
Wasps, who themselves are still yet to win on their league travels this season, made it a contest with tries from Elliot Daly and leading Aviva Premiership try scorer Tom Varndell making it 20-20 at the break.
But Wasps failed to score after the break and had to settle for a losing bonus point, while Gareth Steenson's penalty and Dollman's converted try proved to be enough to secure the victory for Rob Baxter's men.
Steenson put the Chiefs ahead with an early penalty, but Lee Thomas followed suit at the other end three minutes later from in front of the posts to level proceedings.
Exeter looked the better of the two sides early on with wing Jack Nowell and Steenson both causing problems, and the latter knocked over another penalty on ten minutes to restore Exeter's lead.
The Chiefs pushed for a try and were keeping the ball well but were matched by stern Wasps resistance, but it was the visitors who went ahead on 16 minutes following a brilliant solo try from Daly.
A Billy Vunipola offload released the 20-year-old, who blitzed past full-back Brett Sturgess to touch down in the right corner, Thomas converting to make it 10-6.
Thomas then increased the lead to seven with a simple penalty on 21 minutes after the Chiefs were penalised for straying offside.
But Wasps were soon down to 14 men, scrum-half Joe Simpson sent to the sin-bin for slowing the play down, and the Chiefs wasted no time taking advantage.
Racing downfield and applying heavy pressure in Wasps' 22 immediately, it was hooker Whitehead who crashed over off the back of a rolling maul. Steenson made no mistake with the conversion to level proceedings at 13-13.
But Wasps responded in kind just four minutes later, Christian Wade using his electric pace to open up a gap in the Chiefs backline before releasing partner-in-crime Varndell to race over in the corner.
The visitors had complaints of a forward pass but the try stood, and Thomas added the extra points to make it 20-13.
The Chiefs battled back once again and, after a superb try-saving tackle from Varndell denied Steenson, scrum-half Thomas took advantage of his opposite number being in the sin-bin as he snuck across the whitewash from a ruck on the goal-line.
Steenson's conversion was successful to make it all square at 20-20 at half-time.
After the break the fly-half had the chance to put Chiefs back in front with another penalty but his effort struck the upright and bounced clear.
But the fly-half made amends on 50 minutes, splitting the post from the right to nudge the Chiefs ahead after Daly saw yellow for hauling down an on-rushing Nowell to the floor as he chased a kick ahead.
Exeter looked to take advantage and were camped out in the Wasps 22, only denied by some stern goal-line defence from the visitors.
But after Daly returned Chiefs finally broke their resistance, working patiently through eleven phases before Luke Arscott's kick over the defence was caught by centre Dollman to crash over in the corner.
The centre added the extra points himself to open up a ten-point lead for the home side with 16 minutes to play.
Wasps came back strongly and looked to try and release dangerman Wade but the Chiefs were just doing enough to stop the 21-year-old from finding space.
Exeter held firm and Wasps were forced to settle for a bonus point - replacement Tom Bell knocking over from 35-metres out with the final action of the match.