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Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 30 Sale Sharks 25 Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 30 Sale Sharks 25

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Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 30 Sale Sharks 25

High-flying Exeter Chiefs survived a scare from Sale Sharks to maintain second place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with a bonus point win.

Two Aj MacGinty penalties and a Denny Solomona try gave Sale an early lead but Kai Horstmann replied for Chiefs, only for another double from the Sharks fly-half to further stretch their lead.

Luke Cowan-Dickie kept Chiefs in touching distance before Ollie Woodburn further closed the gap and a Henry Slade penalty put Exeter ahead.

MacGinty kicked two more penalties but a Don Armand try was enough for Exeter to claim the win and the bonus point.

Sale applied the early pressure with Solomona looking to have made a telling break, but the Chiefs stood firm in front of the Sandy Park faithful and turned the ball over to allow them to clear their lines.

But Sharks did take the lead on the ten minute mark as MacGinty easily kicked a long-distance penalty after Chiefs were penalised at the scrum.

And the American fly-half doubled the Sharks lead five minutes later, this time from just outside the Chiefs 22, after the home side illegally put hands in the ruck.

Sharks then turned penalties into a try with Solomona scoring a ninth of the season with an interception on his own 22 to run nearly the length of the pitch and, with MacGinty’s conversion, extend Sale’s lead to 13 before the 25 minute mark.

Horstmann replied almost immediately, though, finishing off a fine move sparked by Cowan-Dickie’s break to dive over in the left corner – Slade unable to convert from touchline.

However Sharks were not going to roll over and MacGinty quickly stretched their lead out to 11 with a well-struck penalty in tricky kicking conditions.

And he made it five from five with six first-half minutes to play as the blustery conditions helped another long-distance effort soar through the posts.

But Chiefs hit back just before the break, with Cowan-Dickie going over from the lineout drive after Slade kicked for the corner with pinpoint accuracy – the fly-half also adding the conversion to bring Exeter within seven at the break.

And the deficit was all but wiped out in the early stages of the second half with Woodburn going over in the left corner after an extended period of Chiefs pressure – Slade dragging the conversion just wide from out on the left.

He was on target from the tee just minutes later, though, as Sharks were penalised for holding on and by 50 minutes Chiefs held a one point lead.

It was short-lived, though, after Jack Nowell collected a chip over the Chiefs back line only for those supporting him to infringe at the ruck and MacGinty to kick the resulting penalty.

Chiefs spent much of the next ten minutes in Sharks territory with the Sale penalty count racking up and Slade repeatedly kicking to the left corner in the hope of a repeat of Cowan-Dickie’s earlier score.

And eventually it paid off with Armand going in under the posts with 15 minutes to play, sealing the bonus point and Slade adding the extras to put his side five in front.

The all-important kick then came with four minutes to go as Sale were penalised at the breakdown and Slade knocked over a long-distance effort of his own to leave Sharks trailing by more than a converted score.

MacGinty kicked his sixth penalty of the match with the clock in the red to earn Sharks a losing bonus point, but it was not enough as Chiefs applied pressure to Wasps atop the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.

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