Ian Whitten scored Exeter's second try of the afternoon
1 March 2014, 05:01 pm ::
Exeter Chiefs 18 London Irish 0
Second-half tries from Phil Dollman and Ian Whitten saw Exeter Chiefs pick up their first Aviva Premiership victory of 2014 courtesy of a 18-0 defeat of London Irish.
Having lost five successive league games, the Chiefs went into the clash keen to avoid losing three games in a row at Sandy Park for the first time ever.
But they firmly swept away any unwanted records with Dollman and Whitten dotting down after the break to add to two first half penalties in assured performance.
London Irish meanwhile failed to register a point on the scoreboard for the first time in the Aviva Premiership this season with James O'Connor's missed penalty as close as they got.
Looking to get back to winning ways following last weekend's defeat to Leicester Tigers, they had actually started the brighter, pushing into Exeter's 22 before George Skivington knocked on.
But it was Exeter who got the first points of the afternoon on the board when Henry Slade, given the nod ahead of Gareth Steenson, slotted over an 11th minute penalty.
Irish responded by again getting within five metres of Exeter's line following a strong line out but again the move broke down.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter had handed a first-ever Premiership start to Luke Cowan-Dickie and the hooker did not take long to announce himself, slicing through the Irish lines before offloading to Ben Moon.
With the ball just metres from the line, Leo Halavatau deliberately knocked on for Irish, leaving the tight-head prop sent to the bin and Slade knocking over a second penalty for a 6-0 lead on 20 minutes.
The visitors had a chance to slot over a penalty seven minutes later when Exeter were pinged for illegally bringing the line out down, but James O'Connor saw his effort hit the left hand post before Matt Jess safely gathered.
The early Exiles momentum had dropped off with Exeter having the upper hand heading into the break with the narrow advantage.
And they were again on the front foot after the restart, with Phil Dollman trying his luck with a drop goal from distance which hit the foot of the posts.
But the centre was not going to be denied from getting his name on the scoreboard with the first try of the match on 42 minutes.
The move came from a decisive break from Luke Arscott and while the try line was looming, the full-back unselfishly passed to Dollman to cross. Slade then saw his conversion bounce over off the post for 13-0.
London Irish, who had recorded two successive away games going into the game, tried to find a foothold in the game with Ofisa Treviranus charging forward but Chiefs' Blair Cowan pounced on the loose ball.
Exeter were reduced to 14 on 59 minutes when Ben White was sent to the bin for a tip tackle on Darren Allinson but their defence held firm against the Exiles' drive and maul, eventually turning the ball over.
And they turned defence into attack on 67 minutes as Tom Johnson gathered Shane Geraghty's kick in midfield before throwing out right to Whitten.
The centre then timed his chip to perfection to gather over the line despite the attention of Alex Lewington.
Slade failed to add the extras to leave the score at 18-0 but with the score ticking down in the closing minutes, the Chiefs were left to toast a much welcomed victory to reboot their top four hopes.