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Match Reaction: Exeter Chiefs 35-18 Sale Sharks

Match Reaction: Exeter Chiefs 35-18 Sale Sharks

Exeter Chiefs maintained their undefeated start to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby season, but Sale Sharks made them work for the victory.

In a back-and-forth battle at Sandy Park, Exeter took the lead twice but were hit back by Sale, until Alex Cuthbert’s first try for the club edged them in front and Tom Lawday, on his first start for Chiefs, sealed the win late on.

TRY OF THE MATCH

Paolo Odogwu made waves yet again for Sale, and his set-up for Bryn Evans was a beauty to watch.

The winger latched on to a lovely grubber from AJ MacGinty and span out of a tackle to evade Cuthbert.

He demonstrated his electric pace by making it the corner flag but was taken down by a covering Jack Nowell, but Odogwu spectacularly offloaded from the floor with one hand to the oncoming Evans to crash over.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Although he didn’t get on the scoreboard this week, Henry Slade tore the Sale Sharks defence apart from midfield.

The centre created multiple opportunities with his incisive running, including a try for Jack Maunder after a brilliant step and offload.

He made 68 metres through 11 carries, but was solid in defence also with his tackle count in double figures.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Sale pushed the Chiefs throughout and will feel unlucky not to come away with a bonus point, but it was the clinical nature they lacked in the 22 that cost them the game.

Evidence of this was an opportunity that seemed a sure-fire score during a crucial point in the second half when the game was still in the balance.

The ball was spread wide and Sale had a man overlap, but the pass out to Odogwu was misplaced and intercepted by Chiefs to save a certain score, summing up the story of the day.

WHAT THEY SAID

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter: “You do have to be pretty pleased when you look at a winning side which changes nine starters from the previous week and then goes out and gets another five-point win in the next game.

“That shows what is going on squad-wise right now. Having said that, I don’t think today was as good a performance as that against Leicester here a fortnight ago.

“Sometimes, though, you just have to get on with it and that’s what the players did today. To lose Matt Kvesic and Sam Simmonds literally this morning, that’s take a fair bit of shifting around. Dave Dennis got involved without thinking he was any part of the match-day 23 for quite a while.”

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond: “We created a lot of opportunities, as did they. Our opportunities were much looser than theirs as they relied on the pick and drive and capitalised more than we did.

“We took two or three we just didn’t take the other two or three. I think that was the deciding thing, Exeter were clinical in the final 22 of their plays and we weren’t as clinical.

“What we weren’t able to do was control that scrum and they got into the tight areas where we know they’re difficult to stop.

“They beat us at the breakdown and with their ability to score – one stage in the second half we had an overlap of seven to one but still couldn’t score.

“It was a better performance than the last two weeks but most sides will struggle down here.”

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