Chiefs 31 Warriors 29

Exeter Chiefs hooker Max Norey dives over for one of his three tries in his side's Premiership Rugby Cup victory over Worcester Warriors at Sandy Park

Exeter Chiefs 31

Worcester Warriors 29

Mark Stevens at Sandy Park

Whether or not Exeter Chiefs make it into the latter stages of this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup remains uncertain, but even if they don’t advance, they went down with a fight against visiting Worcester Warriors at Sandy Park.

Just a week after the two clubs locked horns in the Gallagher Premiership, it was the Devonians who gleaned swift revenge for their Sixways setback, triumphing on this occasion with a five-try salvo.

Youngster Max Norey led the way for the home side, the hooker bagging a hat-trick of scores, which included the match-winning score just four minutes from time. And he was joined on the try-sheet by lock Cory Teague and replacement Danny Southworth, while fly-half Jack Walsh helped himself to three conversions.

In reply, the Warriors countered with four tries of their own, Alex Hearle, Tom Howe, Will Chudley and Isaac Miller all crossing with Jamie Shillcock kicking the remainder of their points.

With a new-look line-up, Argentinian forward Santiago Grondona was the sole survivor in the Exeter ranks from the previous week, the Chiefs started the game brightly, quickly tearing into the Warriors with a real gusto to their play.

Exeter centre Tom Hitchcock looks to find a way through the Warriors defence

Early possession allowed the hosts to glean decent territory and with their first meaningful attack, they made that pressure duly pay as Teague rumbled over for his first try in Exeter colours, Walsh bagging the conversion to make it a perfect start.

Home joy, however, proved short-lived as within ten minutes parity was restored, Hearle - the scourge of the Chiefs the previous week - applying the finishing touches to a slick Worcester move, which had initially profited from some wishy-washy tackling in the Exeter midfield.

Undeterred, the Chiefs regrouped after the setback and were quickly back on the offensive. Using their pack to punch their way down field with some heavyweight carries, most notably from the likes of Lewis Pearson, Will Witty and Sam Prior, the latter of whom had come in this week on loan from National League One outfit, Taunton Titans, the tactic quickly paid dividends as the Warriors struggled to contain the threat.

Coughing up penalties, it was from one just in front of the Worcester posts, that Norey was able to steal his way over from close range for the first of his three on the day. Walsh again obliged with the extras to keep the Chiefs in control of proceedings.

Again, home celebrations were short and sharp as the Warriors responded with two tries of their own in the space of five minutes to take the lead for the first time in the contest.

Howe was the first to cross, the winger cruising over in the right-hand corner after the Warriors had exposed an overlap out wide off a penalty advantage, before former Exeter favourite Chudley got in on the act, the scrum-half lapping up a loose ball after his opposite number, Stu Townsend, had been left flat-footed by the bounce of the ball.

It was end-to-end stuff from both sides and for the 10,000-strong crowd in attendance, it was vintage fair for a Saturday afternoon in which running rugby and scoring tries were clearly the order of the day.

As half-time approached, though, it was the turn of the Chiefs to hit back, Ricky Pellow’s side drawing level at the turn when Norey got in on the scoring act again, the all-action forward peeling off the back of a driving maul before diving ‘Superman-like’ over the whitewash to huge acclaim.


With nothing to separate the two sides at the break, it was Worcester who came out firing at the start of the second half. Early endeavours allowed them to set up camp in the Chiefs half, eventually winning a penalty that Shillcock dispatched with aplomb from 25m out to restore his side’s slender lead.

Worcester then extended that lead further on 56 minutes, Miller the beneficiary on this occasion as he was driven over by his fellow forwards from a well-constructed driving maul to claim their all-important bonus point try, which Shillcock was also able to convert.

Pellow sought to invigorate his side, throwing on Marcus Street, James Kenny, Danny Southworth and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne for just over the final quarter of the game. It was a shrewd move and a tactic that clearly benefitted the Chiefs as the half progressed.

The scrum remained a key weapon for the Chiefs to work with, whilst Scottish international Hidalgo-Clyne was a real live-wire during his cameo role, sniping at will and offering a real tempo to the home side’s attacking play.

Indeed, it was from a Hidalgo-Clyne snipe that Witty was then able to lead the Exeter offensive, driving hard towards the Warriors line. Although the towering lock was cut short in his prime, the hosts recycled quickly enough to set-up Southworth who, with just metres to go, needed no second invitation to barge his way over for the converted bonus point score.

Now with the momentum back in their favour, the Chiefs suddenly had the bit between their teeth as the game headed into its dying embers. Throwing caution to the wind, they used the ever-willing Arthur Relton, Dan John and Facundo Cordero to glean them decent meters, before the forwards again took over in the close-contact rumbles.

An over exuberance and some sloppy hands initially halted Exeter’s charge for victory, before the hosts clicked into gear just four minutes from time. Hidalgo-Clyne again offered the initial spark with a clever burst from the back of ruck, after which the forwards took charge, edging their way to within sniffing distance of the Worcester line.

The Warriors did well to repel the threat as its reigned down on them, but in the end they could not stop the forward momentum of the Chiefs, Norey squirming over in the right corner for his milestone moment.

Danny Southworth powers his way over for his try against Worcester Warriors

Although Walsh narrowly failed with the testing touchline conversion, it mattered not for the majority inside Sandy Park who were happy to roar their young charges to victory in the final moments. Every collision, every tackle, every pass, they were all met with roars of approval, before the ball was drilled into the East Terrace with the clock in the red.

Victory assured and the winning formula restored, now it’s a waiting game for the Chiefs to see if they will advance any further. Fingers crossed they do, this young group deserve another opportunity to shine on the big stage!

Chiefs: D John; A Relton, S O'Brien, T Hitchcock, F Cordero; J Walsh, S Townsend (capt, S Hidalgo-Clyne 61); B Keast (J Kenny 59), M Norey, J Iosefa-Scott (M Street 48); W Witty, C Teague (S Leworthy 74); S Grondona, L Pearson, S Prior (D Southworth 53). Replacements (not used): J Poole, I Jenkins, F Nowell.

Tries - Teague, Norey (3), Southworth; Conversions - Walsh (3)

Warriors: M Bunting; A Hearle, O Morris, S Atkinson, T Howe (O Wynn h/t); J Shillcock, W Chudley (capt); K Owen (L Holsey 53), B Cutting, J Tyack; J Scott, J Clegg; C Montgomery, J Forsythe, L Ravuvu (I Miller 48). Replacements: J Richardson, B Murphy, C Kone, T Miles, I Galton.

Tries - Hearle, Howe, Chudley, Miller; Conversions - Shillcock (3); Penalty - Shillcock

Referee: A Leal

Attendance: 10,980

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