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Challenge set for Chiefs to continue winning streak

Challenge set for Chiefs to continue winning streak

Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher challenged the Chiefs to keep their run going after they recorded their third straight Aviva Premiership Rugby win with a 24-19 victory over Sale on a bitterly cold afternoon at Sandy Park.

The home side had a 10-9 lead at the break having scored the only try of the half through prop Chris Budgen, which fly-half Ryan Davis converted to add to his earlier penalty, with skipper Nick MacLeod landing three penalties for the Sharks.

In the second half Exeter scored further tries through blindside flanker Tom Johnson and wing Andrew Higgins, his first since joining the Chiefs in the summer, with Davis converting.

But the Sharks hit back immediately after the Johnson touchdown with a try from wing Rhys Crane with MacLeod adding the extras and a late penalty to give the visitors a loosing bonus point.

"We were pleased to get the win," said Hepher. "Obviously any Aviva Premiership Rugby game is hard fought but we probably made it a little harder than we should have done. But the boys are getting the points on the table though there is still have a long way to go this season.

"We gave away a few silly penalties which cost us but otherwise we were in control of the game.

"We need to smarten up a little as we played a little too deep but we made that adjustment in the second half when we played a lot flatter which took away their line speed.

"When we carried hard we made great inroads and when we picked up from the base of rucks we looked dangerous. The disappointing thing was not getting the try-scoring bonus point.

"It shows how far we've come this season when we can be disappointed that we didn't get that bonus point win. We let Sale back in to the game as soon as we got a lead and if we can improve that then we'll be a difficult Aviva Premiership Rugby side.

"There's still lots to work on and we want to get that bonus-point win because that will be another stage for us. But we can't fault the guys' attitude or commitment week in week out, they just put it in and graft hard.

"We've now got three straight Aviva Premiership Rugby wins. We have got the momentum, the boys are enjoying it, but it is key that we keep that going in a tough game away to London Wasps."

The defeat, in front of a crowd of 7,171 on a bitterly cold but snow-free afternoon, left Sharks in 10th place and head coach Mike Brewer was critical of his side's performance in a game that he had targeted.

Brewer said: "We came here with a certain style that we wanted to play which was based on set-piece but the set-piece in general, but the lineout in particular, was dismal.

"That was the reason we couldn't execute what we set out to do and when we did get a little bit of ball in the second half we scored a try and again towards the end of the game when we stretched the play across the field.

"In the first half we turned the ball over too soon, our kick-off receipt was poor, guys getting in the wrong position resulted in really poor performance in the first half and let Exeter in to the game.

"When we scored points we gave the ball straight back to them and we knew that they would target us through the middle where we were a little soft earlier in the season.

"Exeter held on to the ball well. They are not pretty but they are very good at what they do. Exeter deserved to win the game because we made too many errors."

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