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Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 37 London Irish 7

09 Sep 2017
Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 37 London Irish 7

Don Armand crossed for a double as defending Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Exeter Chiefs kickstarted their new season with a bonus-point win over London Irish.

At a wet and windy Sandy Park, Armand crossed in either half while Henry Slade grabbed the first and Olly Woodburn dotted down late on.

There was also a penalty try and two penalties from the boot of Gareth Steenson for the hosts while Alex Lewington crossed for the Exiles in the second period as they were brought back to earth after their opening day win over Harlequins at Twickenham.

The Chiefs, still smarting from their defeat to Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm, came roaring out of the blocks on home soil and Steenson slotted an early penalty to settle the nerves.

And not long after they had the first try of the game, Slade releasing Sam Simmonds with a nice inside ball before collecting the return on his shoulder to run in untouched for a fine score.

Steenson missed the extras but the Chiefs’ second arrived before the half hour mark and no conversion was needed this time, the Chiefs driving maul too strong for the Exiles and earning a penalty try.

That made it 15-0 and just after the half-hour it got even worse, Armand showing great strength and determination to dot down in the left corner after nice hands from Woodburn and Ben Moon worked him clear.

Again Steenson was off target with the conversion but the Chiefs were home and hosed at 20-0 and chasing a bonus point in the second period.

Steenson first slotted a second a penalty to make it a 23-point lead but as the heavens continued to open, neither side could find the next score until an action-packed final ten minutes.

Alex Lewington went over for the Exiles down the short side after an impressive rolling maul but then when Irish continued to chase the game a loose pass was gobbled up by Woodburn who went 60m to dot down.

That sealed the bonus point and the victory for the Chiefs who still found time to score a fifth with the last play of the game, Armand muscling over from short range under the posts to put the seal on a first victory of the season.