Gareth Steenson pulled the strings as Exeter Chiefs went through to the semi-finals of the LV= Cup with an impressive bonus-point win at Sixways against the Worcester Warriors.
Defeats for both Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers on Friday night had opened the door for the Chiefs and they took full advantage against a lacklustre Warriors.
Tom James crossed for the first try of the match inside the first five minutes, Steenson going over just before the interval to stretch the lead.
And after the break Steenson kept the scoreboard ticking over before replacement Haydn Thomas went over for a late double and Ceri Sweeney ran clear for an interception try as the Chiefs topped Pool 2 and move through to the knockout stages.
With the final to be held at Sandy Park this season the Chiefs had added motivation to make the semi-finals and showed their attacking intent from the start.
Twice they won penalties in the first few minutes in eminently kickable position for Steenson. But rather than opt for the three points, Rob Baxter’s side kicked to the corner.
Twice the Warriors managed to repel the rolling maul but when the ball was spun wide the hosts were caught out and James went over in the corner.
Steenson missed the conversion but the visitors were very much on top, their patient build-up phase play slowly grinding down Dean Ryan’s Warriors.
Jack Yeandle went off injured for the Chiefs but Steenson slotted a 20th minute penalty to stretch the lead to 8-0.
James then made a superb break to put the Chiefs back in range and Steenson made no mistake with another penalty when the Warriors infringed.
Chris Pennell’s long-range penalty finally gave the Sixways crowd something to cheer but before the break there was more bad news.
Matt Jess jinked his way past a couple of would be tacklers and then offloaded to Steenson who went over under the posts.
The fly-half converted his own score to make it 18-3 at the interval and effectively end the game as a contest.
Steenson was at it again soon after the half-time break, firing over a long-range penalty, his third of the match to make it 21-3.
Still the Chiefs kept coming, their hard direct style running down the clock although the Warriors did have chances to mount a comeback after the interval.
But every time they had possession or territory, the Chiefs were able to spoil it and emerge unscathed, much to Ryan’s frustration.
And as the raft of replacements came on in the final quarter the match petered out somewhat although replacement scrum-half Thomas did snipe his way over for the third try of the match late on, Steenson on target with the conversion.
And there was still time for Thomas to grab a second, again burrowing over from close range to seal the bonus point before Sweeney raced clear for an intercept try on the final play of the game.
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