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Exeter break London Irish hearts by snatching Premiership Cup

By PA
A general view as players of Exeter Chiefs celebrate with the Premiership Rugby Cup after Exeter Chiefs defeat London Irish during the Premiership Rugby Cup match between London Irish and Exeter Chiefs at Gtech Community Stadium on March 19, 2023 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

London Irish’s long wait for a trophy continues as an extra-time try from Exeter flanker Aidon Davis saw the Premiership Cup snatched from their grasp as they suffered heartbreak for the second year running.

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Last season Worcester deprived them of success by scoring more tries in a 25-25 draw but they looked set to end their 21-year drought until a late yellow card for flanker Josh Basham turned the game Exeter’s way as the Devonians won 24-20 to follow up their cup wins of 2014 and 2018.

For Irish, outside-half Jacob Atkins converted both of the tries scored by hooker Ignacio Ruiz and also added two penalties.

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Jack Innard, Josh Iofesa-Scott and Davis scored Exeter’s tries, with Iwan Jenkins kicking a conversion and a penalty while Joe Simmonds added two conversions.

A brilliant run from Exeter’s Tom Wyatt secured his side an early attacking platform. Fielding a ball deep in his own half, the full-back easily evaded two defenders but, despite a period of sustained pressure, Irish were able to keep their line intact.

With their first incursion into the Chiefs’ 22, the home side took the lead after 15 minutes when Ruiz crashed over from a line-out drive.

That converted try was the only score of a lively opening quarter, with Irish possessing the dominant scrum but their malfunctioning line-out allowed Exeter’s enterprising backs the opportunity to flourish.

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A high penalty count in their favour was also helping their cause and it came as no surprise when they levelled the scores when captain Innard forced his way over from close range.

After 33 minutes, Exeter suffered two blows in quick succession. First prop Danny Southworth was yellow-carded for a high challenge on number eight So’otala Fa’aso’o for the hosts to capitalise with a second try for Ruiz.

Atkins converted before Jenkins kicked a 40-metre penalty to leave Irish with a 14-10 interval lead.

Southworth returned from the sin bin just in time to see his side fall further behind when Atkins kicked a penalty awarded for a deliberate knock-on by Chiefs number eight Rus Tuima.

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The penalty was the only score of an evenly contested third quarter, with Exeter bringing on the experience of Ollie Devoto, Jannes Kirsten and Simmonds in an attempt to turn the tide in their favour.

With seven minutes remaining, Irish lost flanker Basham to the sin bin for a high challenge on centre Sean O’Brien and it proved costly as Iosefa-Scott crashed over, with a conversion from Simmonds taking the game into extra time.

Exeter lost Kirsten to a head injury assessment before Basham returned in time to see his side regain the lead with a simple penalty from Atkins.

However, Irish bungled the restart for Davis to finish off a period of pressure, with a conversion from Simmonds sealing victory and despair for Irish.

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Shaylen 5 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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