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LV= Cup round-up: Exeter Chiefs march into semis

Defending LV= Cup Champions Exeter Chiefs became the first side to guarantee themselves a semi-final spot in this year’s competition as they saw off a late comeback from Newport Gwent Dragons to win 37-32.

Rob Baxter’s men ran in five tries at Rodney Parade with their scrum firing on all cylinders to build up a 30-13 lead.

But the Dragons were up for the scrap and four second-half tries from Cory Hill, Luc Jones, Scott Matthews and Jason Tovey earned them two bonus points.

Exeter dominated at scrum-time throughout the game, and skills coach Ricky Pellow was full of praise for his pack with Exeter now untouchable atop Pool 4.

"We are massively pleased with this group of players who have worked hard over this LV= Cup block," he said.

"This was a really tough game but the boys will celebrate now, reset on Tuesday and get ready for Saracens to try and nail down a home semi-final.

"But I am really pleased for the players and the club that we are in another semi-final.

"Our forwards gave us a good platform to play off and the front-five scrummage was outstanding.

Exeter are not the only side with little to do next weekend, as Saracens, Cardiff Blues and Leicester Tigers are all well set.

The Blues put one foot in the semi-finals thanks to Miles Normandale’s match-winning try at the death in a crazy game with Wasps.

Wasps threw away a 25-point advantage that they had accrued through Thomas Young's double as well as scores from Viliami Helu, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Guy Thompson and a penalty try as they went down 45-42.

And with Wasps needing a bonus-point victory at Northampton Saints next weekend to progress – as well as a loss from Pool 3 leaders Leicester, who beat the Saints 17-8 on Saturday – defence coach Brad Davis is demanding a positive reaction.

"To give up our winning record at the Ricoh Arena, considering the position we were in was extremely disappointing," said Davis.

"To score 42 points at home and be on the losing side tells the story really. What we did with ball in hand was good but defensively we just weren't good enough.

"Next weekend is a great opportunity to prepare for the fixture the week after and give us some momentum going back into the Aviva Premiership."

Meanwhile London Welsh came within a whisker of claiming their first win of the season, as two late Ben Spencer penalties denied them victory at home to Saracens.

Two second-half tries from Opeti Fonua nudged the Exiles a point ahead, but a youthful Sarries side hit back as Spencer, who along with Jared Saunders also scored a try himself, kept his nerve to make it 20-15 with two tricky penalties – including one from his own half.

The win moved Saracens two points clear of Gloucester Rugby to top a tight Pool 1, after the Cherry & Whites managed a 32-25 victory against Ospreys, with Bath just one point further back after Rory Jennings’ late penalty helped them edge a close game with Harlequins 23-21.

Winless Welsh remain bottom of Pool 4, while London Irish are also out of contention after Scarlets came back to beat them 27-18 in Llanelli – Andy Fenby and Theo Brophy Clews grabbing the Exiles’ tries.

And in the final game of the weekend Newcastle Falcons produced an imperious display to down Sale Sharks 39-19 at Kingston Park, although neither side can now qualify for the semis.

Lee Smith grabbed himself a double and Alex Rogers and Josh Furno dotted down from the back of driving mauls, while No. 8 Uili Kolo'ofai also crossed the whitewash as the hosts racked up five tries.
 
SUNDAY
 
Newport Gwent Dragons 32 Exeter Chiefs 37
 
Newport Gwent Dragons

Tries: Hill, L Jones, Matthews, Tovey
Conversions: Prydie 3
Penalties: Prydie 2

Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Hughes, Vainikolo, James, Skinner, Penalty
Conversions: Sweeney 3
Penalties: Sweeney 2

Referee: Greg MacDonald
Attendance: 5,081
 
Wasps 42 Cardiff Blues 45
 
Wasps

Tries: Helu, penalty, Young 2, Tagicakibau, Thompson
Conversions: Lozowski 6

Cardiff Blues
Tries: Cook, Jones, Normandale 2, Amorosino, S Davies
Conversions: Patchell 6
Penalty: Patchell

Attendance: 9,640
Referee: Tom Foley
 
London Welsh 15 Saracens 20
 
London Welsh

Tries: Fonua
Conversions: Roberts
Drop goal: Roberts

Saracens
Tries: Spencer, Saunders
Conversions: Spencer 2
Penalties: Spencer 2

Referee: David Proctor
Attendance: 3,272
 
Newcastle Falcons 39 Sale Sharks 19
 
Newcastle Falcons

Tries: Rogers, Smith 2, Kolo'ofai
Conversions: Clegg 2, Godman
Penalties: Clegg 2

Sale Sharks
Tries: Fihaki
Conversion: Macleod
Penalties: Ford 4

Referee: Rhys Thomas
Attendance: 4,713
 
SATURDAY
 
Harlequins 21 Bath Rugby 23

 
Harlequins
Tries: Williams, Walker
Conversions: Evans
Penalties: Evans 3

Bath
Tries: Banahan, penalty
Conversions: Homer 2
Penalties: Homer 2, Jennings
 
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Attendence: 7,672
 
Gloucester Rugby 32 Ospreys 25
 
Gloucester Rugby
Tries: A Thomas, Penalty, Thorley, D Thomas
Conversions: Burns 3
Penalties: Burns, A Thomas

Ospreys
Tries: John, Fussell, Grabham
Conversions: Davies 2
Penalties: Davies 2

Attendance: 12, 225
Referee: Andrew Jackson
 
Leicester Tigers 17 Northampton Saints 8
 
Leicester Tigers
Tries: De Chaves, Pearce
Conversions: Williams 2
Penalty: Williams

Northampton Saints
Try: Packman
Penalty: Hooley

Referee: Nigel Owens
Attendance: 24,000
 
Scarlets 27 London Irish 18
 
Scarlets
Tries: Robinson, Warren, Evans
Conversions: Shingler 3
Penalties: Shingler 2

London Irish
Tries: Fenby, Brophy-Clews
Conversions: Dorrian
Penalties: Dorrian 2

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Attendance: 5,051
 
Tickets for this year's LV= Cup Final on 22 March at Franklin's Gardens are now on sale. Click here to snap one up from just £20 for adults, £10 for juniors to see who will win the first silverware of the season.

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