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Exeter back in the groove with 5-try win over disjointed Worcester

By PA

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Exeter moved into the top half of the table with a five-try victory over disjointed Worcester, who were spared a first Premiership whitewash by a late Justin Clegg try. Law trials were introduced this season designed to open up the game and make a staple of Exeter’s – the driving maul – loaded with risk. It appears to have made no difference to the Chiefs, whose 21-0 interval lead was made up of three tries which followed penalties that were kicked to touch. While none of them came via a driving maul, the first two, scored by back-rowers Dave Ewers and Sam Simmonds, followed a series of forward rumbles close to the line.

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The third was completely different and rewarded the bold decision of Exeter’s captain Henry Slade to keep play going after a penalty near his line with time up. Slade, who landed five conversions out of five before being replaced, found touch just inside Exeter’s territory and when Worcester then conceded their tenth penalty of the half, he sent the ball into the Warriors’ 22.

Jonny Hill, one of six summer Lions on display, caught Luke Cowan-Dickie’s throw and as Worcester prepared for a maul, the Chiefs went wide. Ollie Lawrence’s powerful tackle looked to have thwarted the move, but Facundo Cordero came into the midfield from his wing and wrong-footed the defence on a 35-metre run that was out of character with what had gone on before.

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Jonny Hill guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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Jonny Hill guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload

Worcester head coach Jonathan Thomas held an inquest with his co-captains Willi Heinz and Scott Baldwin and fly-half Billy Searle on the pitch before they joined the rest of the players in the changing room and one question was how an even first-half finished with a one-sided score.

Worcester failed to emerge with the ball from three set-pieces in Exeter’s 22 in the first 15 minutes and they were wasteful throughout. Their two summer Lions signings Rory Sutherland and Duhan van der Merwe made their club debuts and both will have better afternoons.

Up against Harry Williams, Sutherland conceded three scrum penalties before limping off while van der Merwe, eager to get the ball in his hands, made four handling errors and struggled to find the same wavelength as the players around him. Worcester had only beaten Exeter once in 18 Premiership meetings and it was all over for them three minutes after the restart when another penalty was kicked to touch and Cordero secured the try bonus point after the Chiefs switched direction.

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Simmonds scored his second after a 30-metre burst and Exeter, playing in a one-off kit which will be auctioned in support of the NHS, toyed with opponents whose torment would have been greater but for Lawrence before another penalty resulted in a try for Joe Simmonds.

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Exeter back in the groove with 5-try win over disjointed Worcester

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