Chiefs 42 Warriors 5
Exeter Chiefs 42
Worcester Warriors 5
Mark Stevens at Sandy Park
Rob Baxter welcomed back his Pride of Lions for the first time since June and they wasted little time in making their mark, roaring the Exeter Chiefs to a comprehensive victory over visiting Worcester Warriors.
No.8 Sam Simmonds led the way, grabbing a brace on his first outing of the new campaign, but his fellow summer tourists were equally impressive as they helped the Devonians to swot aside a Warriors outfit who were second best for large parts of this contest.
Jonny Hill, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Stuart Hogg all played their part, but it was the display of young forward Richard Capstick which stole the show, the gifted open-side producing another eye-catching display that won rave reviews from the Exeter coaches post game.
Although Capstick didn’t cap his man-of-the-match performance with a score, he was heavily involved in Exeter’s other tries, which came courtesy of Dave Ewers, Facundo Cordero (2) and Joe Simmonds.
Henry Slade bagged five conversions to finish with an unblemished record from the tee, while Joe Simmonds slotted the extras to his own score to wrap up the home points.
In reply, Worcester’s sole response was a late score for lock Justin Clegg. However, that was all they could muster on a difficult afternoon in the Westcountry for Jonathan Thomas’ men.
Buoyed by their first win of the season at Sale the previous week, Baxter made a string of changes to his starting line-up ahead of kick-off. Welcoming in three of his four Lions, he also drafted back props Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams in the front-row, while Tom Hendrickson came in for the injured Ollie Devoto in the centre.
Worcester, meanwhile, were looking to bounce back from their home defeat to Gloucester. Included in their ranks were former Chiefs Matt Kvesic and Will Chudley, whilst they gave a debut to two of their own Lions, prop Rory Sutherland and winger Duhan van der Merwe.
With a bumper crowd packing into Sandy Park to help celebrate the club’s special NHS Day, it was a raucous welcome that awaited the Chiefs, who let the lanky frame of Hill run out first for his 100th Premiership and Champions Cup appearance for the club.
The early exchanges were fast and frenetic as both sides used their powerhouse runners to try and make some early inroads. Worcester offered a decent enough threat, but too often they were guilty of coughing up possession when primed to strike.
Similarly, the Chiefs could not make the most of their own opportunities in an opening quarter that came and went without too much to mention.
The hosts, though, were slowly growing in confidence and having seen a chance go begging for pre-latching close to the line, they finally made their pressure pay on 22 minutes, propelling the hulking frame of Ewers over for the opening score of the game.
Slade, skipper for the day, bagged the extras to that score and Exeter’s second, which duly arrived just past the half-hour mark. Ewers, Hepburn and Hill all carried industriously through the middle, before the ball was worked out to Simmonds to do the rest.
Last season’s top try-scorer in the Premiership needed little reminding of how to finish things off, burrowing his way over from close range.
Two scores clear, the Chiefs were clearly up and running as half time approached. Worcester, though, were looking for a response and although they huffed and puffed, they could find no way through the Exeter defensive line.
Indeed, having turned over possession of their own ball, the Chiefs used the award of a penalty to propel themselves back down field, using the resultant line-out to work a lovely switch move in midfield that allowed Hendrickson to feed Cordero in space. Still with plenty to do, the Argentine flyer hot-stepped his way to the line, ensuring a third maximum before the turn.
HALF TIME EXETER CHIEFS 21 WORCESTER WARRIORS 0
No sooner had the second half begun, Cordero was at it again, this time ghosting over on the right-hand side after the Chiefs had picked apart the Warriors with a lightning quick attack that stretched them the width of the field.
Bonus point in the bag, the question now being asked was just how many the Chiefs could go on to score. A quick tap from Hogg almost saw Witty over for a try by the posts, only for Simmonds to show his team-mate how it should be done with his second of the afternoon.
Slade was the instigator, gliding his way down the right touchline, before the ball was worked back inside through a catalogue of hands to Simmonds. Still with a bit to do, the Warriors did their best to try and halt the new dad in his prime, but when you offer only powder puff resistance, the Exeter man is always going to be the winner.
It was proving one-way traffic and although both sides emptied their benches, it was the Chiefs who continued to rule the roost.
Replacement hooker Jack Innard was seemingly everywhere, both in attack and defence, whilst Capstick continued to hound the visitors into submission with his all-round efforts.
Worcester were hanging on as best they could, but with five minutes remaining the Chiefs inflicted another final and fatal blow on them, Joe Simmonds finding his way over after the home side had gone quick from another tap penalty. He added the conversion to his own score to put the game well and truly to bed.
To their credit, the Warriors kept fighting to the death and it was from a snipe from Chudley deep inside the Exeter 22 that the visitors were able to work the opening for Clegg to steal over. By then, it was all a little too late.
For the Chiefs, it was normal service resumed, helping to further quash those early season whispers that Baxter’s side were in crisis and not up for their usual top-of-the-table push.
Exeter Chiefs: S Hogg (J Simmonds 56); F Cordero, H Slade (capt, I Whitten 61), T Hendrickson, T O’Flaherty; H Skinner, J Maunder (S Hidalgo-Clyne 54); A Hepburn (B Keast 54), L Cowan-Dickie (J Innard 54), H Williams (J Iosefa-Scott 54); W Witty (S Skinner 56), J Hill; D Ewers, R Capstick, S Simmonds (C Tshiunza 71).
Tries – Ewers, S Simmonds (2), Cordero (2), J Simmonds; Conversions – Slade (5), J Simmonds
Worcester Warriors: J Shillcock; N Heward (H Doel 52); O Morris, O Lawrence, D van der Merwe (W Butler 66); B Searle, W Heinz (co-capt, W Chudley 50); R Sutherland (E Waller 52), S Baldwin (co-capt, N Annett 78), C Judge (J Tyack 56); A Kitchener, J Clegg; K Hatherell (S Lewis 28), M Kvesic, S Vailanu (J Batley 50).
Try – Clegg
Referee: T Foley