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Premiership Rugby Shield Review: Exeter return to the summit

Premiership Rugby Shield Review: Exeter return to the summit

Jack Nowell played his first minutes of rugby since the autumn as Exeter Braves returned to the top of the Southern Conference with a 45-22 victory over Gloucester United in the Premiership Rugby Shield.

Nowell couldn’t get himself on the scoresheet as he featured for the first half of Exeter’s triumph, taking the Braves above Saracens Storm after they had tasted defeat for the first time this season against Bath United last time out.

But Haydn Thomas’ side didn’t have things all their own way as scores from Sam Maunder and Max Bodilly were countered by efforts from Alex Morgan and Jack Bartlett as the Cherry and Whites took the lead early in the second-half.

But a double from Richard Capstick and a James McRae effort put the Braves in control, and but for Charlie Chapman crossing, the visitors saw out the game comfortably, Luke Mehson adding a score before McRae grabbed his second to put the icing on the cake.

After the game, Thomas praised his side’s response after the defeat to Bath, saying: “[Saturday’s game] was a much better performance than what we showed against Bath a fortnight ago.

“It wasn’t perfect but I thought some boys really put in some really big shifts, and it was much more what we’d call an Exeter Chiefs performance.

“A lot of hard work and effort was put in by the guys and we’re delighted to have picked up the victory, and the five points, which keeps us top of the table and all to play for with just three rounds to go.”

The result sees Exeter go two points clear of Saracens in the Southern Conference, with Newcastle Falcons sitting pretty atop the Northern Conference ahead of the competition’s return in April.

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