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Exeter thrash Bristol at Ashton Gate

By PA
Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs – Gallagher Premiership – Ashton Gate

Exeter wings Olly Woodburn and Jack Nowell both scored two tries as the Chiefs blew away Bristol 50-14 at Ashton Gate to move top of the Premiership table.

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The Chiefs maintained their impressive record at the venue having only lost once in their last 10 visits to the ground, with a European Cup final success among their victories.

Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ruben Van Heerden and Richard Capstick were also on the try-scoring sheet for the visitors, with Joe Simmonds converting three of the Chiefs’ seven tries and kicking a penalty. Henry Slade added three conversions.

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Toby Fricker and Will Capon crossed for Bristol, with conversions from Callum Sheedy and AJ MacGinty.

Bristol began by turning down a couple of kickable penalties in favour of more attacking options and it paid dividends.

The home pack battered the opposition line and when the ball was recycled a well-judged kick from Sheedy was collected by Fricker, who walked over for the opening try.

Sheedy converted before Simmonds put Chiefs on the scoreboard with a straightforward penalty.

Bristol then suffered two blows in quick succession. First, Ellis Genge was yellow-carded for a high challenge on Jonny Gray before the visitors took advantage of the prop’s absence when Nowell was provided with an easy run-in.

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Genge was still in the sin-bin when the Chiefs scored again.

A couple of thunderous bursts from flanker Jacques Vermeulen took his side into Bears’ 22 before Woodburn showed great determination to squeeze his way over.

Genge returned to the action but the concession of 14 points was costly damage and Bristol needed a response.

They almost got one by launching a huge onslaught on the Exeter line but could not capitalise with Harry Randall losing possession as he attempted to dive over, leaving the Chiefs with a useful 17-7 half-time lead.

Bristol bungled the restart so Exeter had the chance to increase their advantage. They looked to have done so when prop Harry Williams forced his way over but TMO replays showed an earlier knock-on.

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However, the Devon side continued to have the better of the third quarter and were rewarded with a second try for Woodburn.

They elected to take a tap-penalty close to the hosts’ line and out-foxed their opponents by moving the ball back to the blindside for Woodburn to cross.

Minutes later, Nowell ran elusively to score the bonus-point try and Exeter were out of sight before Capon gave Bristol some respectability by crashing over from a driving line-out.

Exeter replacement Cowan-Dickie intercepted a stray pass from Chris Vui to score Exeter’s fifth before Bristol’s misery was compounded with a try from Van Heerden.

With 10 minutes remaining, Bears centre Piers O’Conor was sin-binned for a tackle in the air and a try from Capstick completed the rout as the crowd of over 19,000 made their way to the exits.

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