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Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 31 Wasps 17

24 Sep 2017
Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 31 Wasps 17

Olly Woodburn paved the way for a superb Exeter Chiefs victory over Wasps, with the Aviva Premiership Rugby champions prevailing 31-17 at Sandy Park.

A repeat of last year’s final – which was only decided by Gareth Steenson’s extra-time penalty – this clash was far more convincing from the Chiefs, who claimed a try-bonus point after Woodburn scored twice and Dave Dennis, Don Armand and Shaun Malton all also crossed.

The hosts set out as they meant to continue early on and put massive pressure on the Wasps line for the opening eight minutes, which eventually paid dividends despite strong defence from the visitors.

Dai Young’s side committed men up front and two flat passes from Gareth Steenson and Lachie Turner spread the ball wide for Woodburn to finish easily in the left corner.

Steenson’s conversion attempt drifted wide and Wasps hit straight back; a botched lineout from the visitors saw Sam Skinner disrupt, but Ashley Johnson was the beneficiary as he reacted quicker than anybody else to snatch up the loose ball and charge over the line – Jimmy Gopperth adding the extras.

Another penalty from Gopperth, wearing the No.10 jersey, stretched the lead as Exeter were pinged for tackling a man off the ball in a lineout.

But it was the Kiwi’s mistake that cost Wasps a score as he cleared long – but out on the full – and with the ball taken back inside the 22 Exeter made him pay, with Dennis holding off a couple of tackles rumbling over from the lineout.

The wind again affected Steenson’s touchline conversion attempt to leave the scores locked at 10-10 on 20 minutes, but Chiefs were soon out in front as Henry Slade found Armand and the flanker produced a wonderful finish.

He smashed through Rob Miller and Josh Bassett to somehow dot down in the right corner, and it was third time lucky for Steenson with the extras from the touchline.

And two more tries either side of half-time sealed the bonus point and put the Chiefs in a commanding position.

First Slade got the better of Christian Wade with a break down the left, showing outside but delivering the ball on a plate for Woodburn inside him to score, before replacement Shaun Malton scored his first Aviva Premiership Rugby try on the hour mark.

Nothing was going Wasps’ way with the usually metronomic Gopperth missing a penalty from in front of the posts, but Josh Bassett did give them a sniff with a try after Joe Simpson broke clear.

But a professional job from the Chiefs in the closing stages saw out the win, their third league triumph in a row moving them top of the table.

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