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Exeter Chiefs 74 London Welsh 19

07 Mar 2015
Exeter Chiefs 74 London Welsh 19

Thomas Waldrom notched his 11th and 12th Aviva Premiership Rugby tries of the season as Exeter Chiefs romped to victory over winless London Welsh.

Not since Neil Back in 1998-99 has a forward finished as the league’s top try scorer but with just five rounds to go, No.8 Waldrom currently sits atop the scoring charts.

Early tries for Nathan Trevett and Seb Stegmann had Welsh dreaming of a first victory this term but when Will Chudley, Tom James, Jack Yeandle and Matt Jess crossed before half-time the writing was on the wall once again.

Henry Slade, Waldrom’s brace, Ian Whitten and a pair of penalty tries merely compounded the Exiles’ misery after the break as they conceded over 50 points for the eighth time this season – Stegmann’s second try late on providing little consolation.

With only five games to go, time is fast running out for Justin Burnell’s troops to avoid becoming only the second team, after Rotherham in 2003-04, to end their league campaign winless. ­

Eight of London Welsh’s starting XV were members of their Championship winning team last season and they showed some of the panache that led them to that title in the early stages at Sandy Park.

With just three minutes on the clock, Chiefs overthrew a lineout, allowing Exiles skipper Richard Thorpe to collect before Trevett dived over from close-range a couple of phases later.

A pair of Slade penalties soon eradicated that advantage but Stegmann grabbed his second league try of the season on 19 minutes as he collected Tristan Roberts’ inch-perfect chip over the top and had a simple run-in.

With the travelling contingent now in full voice, Welsh appeared to be full of confidence, with their backs offloading at will, but Exeter soon demonstrated why they are one of the favourites to secure an Aviva Premiership Rugby play-off spot.

First, Chudley slipped through a gap in the visitors’ defence to touch down after a well-worked lineout before James stepped inside a flat-footed Stegmann to race over in the left-hand corner – Slade nailing both conversions to open a 20-12 lead.

And the hosts refused to let up as Phil Dollman scythed his way through the Exiles backline, setting up Yeandle for the third try before Chudley created try number four out of nothing.

The scrum-half hacked on following a loose Welsh pass and used his speed to reach the ball first – flicking it up to Jess for the bonus-point score as Slade went four from four on conversion attempts.

Nic Reynolds should then have narrowed the 34-12 deficit on the stroke of half-time but failed to gather the bouncing ball with the try-line at his mercy.

With the game more or less sewn up, Rob Baxter could have been forgiven for letting his troops ease up but there was no such luck for Welsh as Slade got the try his play deserved early in the second period.

The fly-half started the move with an initial break before crossing the whitewash several phases later – adding the extras in the immediate aftermath.

An inexorable driving maul then saw Waldrom touch down for his 11th Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the campaign before further domination from the Chiefs pack was rewarded with a penalty try to make it 53-12.

Perhaps understandably, the Welsh players looked completely dejected and try number eight followed on 62 minutes – Exeter recycling the ball well to allow Whitten to dive over.

A second penalty try came not long after before Waldrom barrelled over for his second of the game – ensuring Exeter notched their record Aviva Premiership Rugby score – although Stegmann did give the visitors the scantest of consolations on 79 minutes as he completed his brace after collecting Alex Davies’ exquisite chip.

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