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Exeter earn bonus-point win in France to kick off Champions Cup campaign

(Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Exeter began their Heineken Champions Cup campaign by running in four tries in a 27-12 win at last season’s Top 14 runners-up Castres.


Sam Simmonds, Dave Ewers, Sam Maunder and Olly Woodburn all scored tries as the 2020 European champions earned a bonus-point victory on the road.

It was the perfect way for Exeter to celebrate the news director of rugby Rob Baxter and coaches Ali Hepher, Rob Hunter and Ricky Pellow had all signed long-term contract extensions earlier in the week.

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The Chiefs scored two first-half tries to take a grip on proceedings, but then allowed their hosts to stay in the fight by conceding a stream of penalties.

That allowed Castres full back Julien Dumora to score four penalties to level the game at 12-12 at the break, but Exeter ran out comfortable winners in the second half.

The breakthrough for the Chiefs came in the 19th minute when Simmonds took a pop pass from scrum half Maunder and raced 20 metres to score the opening points with a try in the left corner.

That was nothing less than the more creative Chiefs deserved for their efforts and 10 minutes later they grabbed a second try when Ewers finished off a drive to the line by Simmonds to cross from five metres out.


This time Joe Simmonds had no problem in adding the extras and the Chiefs were 12-3 ahead. But by the break it was all square as Dumora kept punishing the Exeter mistakes with his accurate kicking.

Four minutes into the second half Castres lost wing Geoffrey Palis to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock down as the Chiefs attacked. The penalty was kicked to the corner and it did not take long for the third try to come.

The forwards secured the line-out, drove for the try-line and eventually Maunder picked up and dived over.

With 14-men the home side picked up their effort and had two scrums five metres out from the Exeter line yet failed to make them pay.


Canadian number eight Tyler Ardron eventually picked up from the second scrum, was chopped down by Simmonds and Ewers turned the ball over. No sooner had Exeter saved their line than they once again went into attack mode.

Stuart Hogg broke free up the right flank, raced up to the 22 and then sent Woodburn up the touchline and then around to the post for the bonus-point try.

That came on the hour mark and Simmonds added the extras and then a penalty to make the game safe.


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