Throwback Thursday: Exeter Chiefs 31-17 Wasps, 2017
With both sides starting the new Gallagher Premiership Rugby season with wins, Exeter Chiefs and Wasps will be looking to maintain their 100 per cent records when they meet in Round 2.
Dai Young’s side will welcome last year’s beaten finalists to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Saturday in what is arguably the standout clash of this weekend’s fixtures.
The two teams have met on 18 occasions in the Premiership, with Chiefs holding the better head-to-head record having won 12 games compared to the five won by Wasps.
Ahead of their latest battle, we have cast our mind back to last year when the Devonians delivered a commanding performance to beat Wasps 31-17 at Sandy Park on September 24, 2017.
The Round 4 clash was a repeat of the Premiership final in May, which saw Exeter claim victory with Gareth Steenson’s extra-time penalty in a dramatic finale at Twickenham.
Defending champions Chiefs went into the game having suffered a stumbling start to the season, losing to Gloucester in their opening match of the campaign.
Wasps also had one defeat on their record after losing to Harlequins in the previous round, so both teams had a point to prove as they looked to kick start their title challenge.
But while many anticipated another tight encounter like the 2016/17 showpiece, the hosts proved too good for Wasps as they picked up a bonus-point victory.
Exeter got off to lightning fast start as they scored inside the first 10 minutes, with Olly Woodburn touching down from Henry Slade’s pass following sustained pressure.
Steenson’s conversion drifted wide of the posts before Wasps responded as Ashley Johnson capitalised on their own botched line-up to snatch the loose ball and cross the whitewash.
Jimmy Gopperth converted to add the extras, adding a penalty soon after to stretch the visitors’ lead, but he was then found at fault for Exeter’s next try.
His long clearance went out on the full and with the ball taken back inside the 22, Chiefs made him pay as Dave Dennis received the ball, held off two tackles and crashed over.
While Steenson was unable to find the target once again, Don Armand was able to deliver when it mattered as he scored a brilliant third try for the hosts following a floated Slade pass.
The flanker shrugged off the challenges of Rob Miller and Josh Bassett to touch down in the right corner, with Steenson making no mistake with the extras this time from the touchline.
Then, with just a couple of minutes to go before the break, Slade cut through Wasps’ defence once again and offloaded to Woodburn to make it 24-10 at half-time.
Despite having the bonus point already in the bag, Exeter showed no let up at the start of the second half and it was not long before they had their fifth try of the afternoon.
Replacement Shaun Malton opened his Premiership try account on the hour mark, barrelling over after half a dozen phases, with Steenson converting to hammer home Exeter’s advantage.
With the result no longer in doubt, Wasps ended the game with a flourish as a 60-yard move started by Elliot Daly was finished off by Bassett to narrow the gap.
But it was no more than a consolation as Chiefs, who consigned Wasps to back-to-back defeats, returned to the top of the Premiership table with the 31-17 triumph.