33 unanswered second-half points see Exeter impressively respond to European exit
Exeter responded to their Heineken Champions Cup exit by resuming Gallagher Premiership business with a 43-13 bonus-point victory over Wasps at Sandy Park. The Chiefs’ hopes of a successful European title defence were ended by four-time tournament winners Leinster last weekend.
Back-to-back Premiership crowns are now Exeter’s sole focus and they consolidated second place behind runaway leaders Bristol through a convincing win underpinned by 33 unanswered second-half points.
Full-back Stuart Hogg (two), centre Ollie Devoto, lock Jonny Hill, wing Facundo Cordero, fly-half Joe Simmonds and prop Tomas Francis scored tries, with Simmonds kicking four conversions, while Wasps claimed a Josh Bassett touchdown and eight points from fly-half Jacob Umaga.
There was also a 20-minute return off the replacements’ bench for Chiefs’ England wing Jack Nowell, who made his comeback following six months out due to toe ligament surgery and then a hamstring problem. But for Wasps, despite some impressive spells in the Devon sunshine, it was their sixth defeat from the last seven Premiership games, and playoff chances appear remote for Lee Blackett’s team.
Exeter showed four changes from the Leinster loss, including starts for Cordero, prop Harry Williams and lock Sam Skinner. Wasps, meanwhile, replaced injured full-back Matteo Minozzi with Rob Miller, fielded Tom West at loosehead prop and gave flanker Ben Morris a start instead of James Gaskell.
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 17, 2021
Exeter found themselves under pressure as the Wasps forwards targeted early in-roads, but after scrum-half Dan Robson’s pass fell the Chiefs’ way, Devoto gathered to claim an opportunist try from 80 metres out. Umaga opened Wasps’ account through a short-range penalty three minutes later, yet Exeter soon responded with a second try created by hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie on his 100th Premiership appearance.
The England international broke clear in open play, knocked a Wasps defender out of his way and then set up quickly-recycled possession for an unmarked Hill to cross wide out. But Wasps responded impressively, taking a three-point lead shortly before the break due to a second Umaga penalty and then a try following Exeter and Scotland star Hogg’s error.
Hogg had plenty of time to launch a clear kick into touch from inside his own 22, but Bassett charged it down and then gathered for a try, before Umaga added a wide-angled conversion. Wasps finished the opening 40 minutes as they had started it, camped inside Exeter’s 22 and giving the Chiefs plenty to ponder during half-time.
Exeter began the second period by moving up a gear in terms of their intensity, and it took a brilliant tackle by Wasps wing Paolo Odogwu to deny Chiefs number eight Sam Simmonds his 15th Premiership try of the season. But the Chiefs did not have to wait before they regained the lead, with impressive approach work by Devoto creating space and Hogg atoned for his earlier mistake by finishing strongly.
Exeter were back at it just two minutes later, claiming a bonus-point try after Cordero intercepted Wasps centre Malakai Fekitoa’s pass and leaving the visitors nine points adrift. The job was then completed by Wales international Francis 10 minutes from time, who scored his first Exeter try, and Simmonds converted to leave Wasps floundering following a second half that Chiefs dominated.
There was still time for Simmonds to touch down and convert his own try, before Hogg crossed for his second, as Exeter delivered one of their most impressive 40-minute performances this season.
After their props played the full 84 minutes against Clermont, Wasps have entered the debate over reducing the size of the eight-man benches https://t.co/qIE5XTYv9l
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 16, 2021
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