A red card and 12 tries as Exeter close gap with win over Tigers
Exeter kept up the pressure on Premiership leaders Bristol with victory against 14-man Leicester, who played their full part in a cracking 12-try encounter.
The Tigers thoroughly deserved their bonus point, after the 13th-minute sending off of their South African winger Kobus Van Wyk, with their impressive driving maul showing all the hallmarks of head coach Steve Borthwick.
Matters took a further turn for the worse for the Tigers a minute later when Van Wyk was red carded for a shoulder to the head when tackling Exeter scrum-half Jack Maunder.
Olly Woodburn almost capitalised immediately on their one-man advantage when he was forced out in the corner, but another superb handling move provided a touchdown for Tom O’Flaherty, with Joe Simmonds’ boot making it 14-0.
Leicester were reduced to 13 men in the 29th minute when Dan Kelly killed the ball on his own try line after he had stopped Facundo Cordero just short following an O’Flaherty break and was yellow carded. From the quick tap penalty, Dave Ewers forced his way over for his second try in two weeks.
Simmonds converted that and the bonus-point try three minutes later for young centre Harvey Skinner – his first in the Premiership – after being sent clear by Sam Simmonds following another wonderful display of handling.
However, Leicester deserve great credit for the way they ended the half.
On virtually their first visit to the Exeter 22, a lovely break and dummy by skipper Hanro Liebenberg off the back of a scrum on the 22 created a score for Argentinean international lock Tomas Lavanini, superbly converted by Zack Henry.
Then talented young scrum-half Jack Van Poortvliet sold a fine dummy off the back of a driving maul to snipe over for a second score to give the Tigers a glimmer of hope at the break at 28-12 behind.
Any hopes of a dramatic turnaround appeared to be firmly scotched when Joe Simmonds’ chip over the defence was gathered by brother Sam for his 14th Premiership try of the season, with Joe converting.
Tigers delivered an instant riposte, though, when Scotland international centre Matt Scott finished off by the posts after a Tigers driving maul, with replacement Johnny McPhillips improving the score.
Chiefs winger Woodburn celebrated the birth of his first child Solomon during the week with the Chiefs’ sixth try in the 50th minute after another fine move, before the maul served the Tigers well once again with a converted touchdown from hooker Charlie Clare.
A yellow card for Exeter’s Cordero and a visiting try from Liebenberg got Tigers to within nine points, but Exeter closed the game out with a Jacques Vermeulen touchdown to complete the season’s double over the Midlanders.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now