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Exeter Chiefs 44 London Irish 24

11 Oct 2014
Exeter Chiefs 44 London Irish 24

A fine double from Damian Welch was the highlight as a rampant Exeter Chiefs put London Irish to the sword for their fourth Aviva Premiership Rugby win of the season.

Welch secured a well-deserved four-try bonus point for the Chiefs early in the second half after his first score, in addition to tries from Carl Rimmer and Henry Slade, had effectively sealed the victory by half-time.

Don Armand’s powerful finish added a further sheen to the performance although Andrew Fenby and a pair of Blair Cowan scores ensured that Irish closed the gap late on.

The home side flew out of the blocks and their early dominance told on seven minutes as Gareth Steenson slotted the game’s opening penalty.

Shane Geraghty then turned some sustained Irish pressure into three points to level the scores but that was as good as it got for the visitors in the first half.

In a move straight from the training ground, Chiefs scrum-half Will Chudley fed Rimmer on the left-hand side and the prop crashed over on 16 minutes for his first try of the season.

After the TMO confirmed there hadn’t been a forward pass in the build-up, Steenson added the extras for a 10-3 lead.

And things quickly went from bad to worse for the Exiles.

Slade has been touted for an England call-up and Stuart Lancaster will have undoubtedly been impressed when, on 20 minutes, he scythed through the visitors’ defence like a knife through butter.

The centre’s run caught Irish flat-footed and he dotted down under the posts for his third try in the past three matches.

As well as their backs were playing, Exeter were showing their true dominance in the scrum and two more Steenson penalties extended the lead to 23-3 with seven minutes of the first half remaining.

Continual handling errors from Irish negated their attacking threat and Welch made them pay just before half-time.

England winger Jack Nowell made the initial break before slipping a perfectly-timed inside pass to the big lock, who lunged over for his side’s third try of the afternoon.

Steenson was once again perfect from the tee, as the Chiefs took a healthy 30-3 advantage into the break.

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith brought on Cowan, Daniel Leo, and James Short for the start of the second half but it did little to stem the flow of Exeter points.

Firstly Welch collected a pass thrown slightly behind him and barrelled over for his second score on 55 minutes, which also wrapped up the four-try bonus point.

Then, less than two minutes later, Armand compounded the Irish Exiles’ misery as the versatile forward touched down for try number five.

Nowell used his blazing speed to torch the visiting defence as he slipped his way past two defenders before off-loading to Armand who completed the score.

An errant defensive line-out from Exeter allowed Cowan to touch down for a consolation try on 70 minutes and Fenby then finished off an 80 metre inter-passing effort.

Cowan then went over for his second score as time expired but the day belonged to Exeter Chiefs who solidified their position in the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four.

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