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European Round-Up: Exeter Chiefs bag bonus-point win in France

Gareth Steenson admitted Exeter Chiefs are riding high at the moment after taking control of Pool 2 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

The Aviva Premiership Rugby side visited French outfit La Rochelle on Thursday night, off the back of three straight league wins in November, and claimed a 36-10 victory.

Tries from Tom James, Brett Sturgess, Byron McGuigan and Fetu’u Vainikolo ensured Rob Baxter’s side as Steenson – just one day after signing a new contract at Sandy Park – kicked 16 points.

The fly-half conceded some harsh words were said following a close first half, but he was always confident the Chiefs’ fitness would shine through.

“In the first half we maybe didn’t make our completions, we didn’t complete a lot of tackles – we were putting hits in but they were riding us a wee bit,” he said. “There was just a real focus on trying to get some tackles there and we were very pleased.

“We planned on coming over and putting a lot of tempo in the game. It was definitely a very physical game, we felt we were fitter and if we put our game on them and played with a lot of tempo then we would tire their big boys out.

“We’re doing quite well on all fronts. We’ve have a good block in the Premiership, to come away from the last block with three good wins, and it was nice to come into a different competition.

“It has put us in good stead going into next week as well so hopefully we can come away with a result there.

“We’re absolutely delighted to come away and get five points in France – it’s very tough for any team.”
 
La Rochelle: Barraque; Veivuke (Gourdon 79), Alofa, Murimurivalu, Cler (Cestaro 65); Le Bail (Fortassin 56), Audy; Seneca (van Vuuren 62), Geledan (Pelo 62), Bourrust (Kaulashvili 56); Grobler (Nailikko 54), Cedaro; Guyot, Djebaili, Goujon (Meron 71)
 
Exeter Chiefs: McGuigan (Vainikolo 77); Jess, Hughes, Whitten, James; Steenson (Sweeney 76), Thomas (Lewis 58); Sturgess (Rimmer 56), Cowan-Dickie (Bateman 66), Low (Brown 66); Lees, Caldwell; Ewers, White (Scaysbrook 66), Horstmann
Replacements not used: Mumm
 
Scorers
 
La Rochelle
Tries: Barraque
Conversions: Audy
Penalties: Audy
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: James, Sturgess, McGuigan, Vainikolo
Conversions: Steenson 2
Penalties: Steenson 4
 
Referee: Andrew McMenemy
Attendance: 10,864

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