Chiefs U18s 56 Gloucester U18s 7
By Mark Stevens
Gareth Steenson hailed a season's best display from his Exeter Chiefs Under-18s side who wrapped up their Premiership Rugby Under-18s League campaign with a 56-7 win over Gloucester at Truro College.
With both sides having claimed three wins from three ahead of kick-off, it was the Chiefs who dominated from start to finish, running in eight tries and producing an eye-catching display that augurs well for the future.
Two converted tries from prop Dylan Arthur gave the home side the perfect start, after which they added a third try through No.8 Milo Hallam.
Already 21-0 down, it would get no easier for the Cherry & Whites as centre Kian Gentry and prop Bailey Williams added a try apiece. Skipper Iwan Jenkins converted both scores, alongside the extras to the earlier three scores, to put his side firmly in command of proceedings at half time beckoned.
The Chiefs, though, were far from finished and with virtally the last play of the half, they added a second converted score from Hallam to make it 42-0 at the turn.
On the resumption, the Chiefs were again quickly into their stride, taking just three minutes to add to their tally. Lock Alex Sheridan was the latest scorer with Jenkins again on target with the conversion.
Gloucester could not handle the power, pace and precision of their rivals and fell further behind on 47 minutes when centre Charlie McCaig added their eighth score. Jenkins notched the conversion to ensure he ended the game with an unblemished record from the kicking tee.
To their credit, Gloucester continued to stay in the fight and their efforts were rewarded with a consolation score for fly-half Conor Murphy. It was, however, there only crumb of comfort on a tough outing to the Duchy.
Post-game, head coach Steenson was quick to praise his young side, saying: "It's been a very pleasing block of fixtures for us. To go four from four is an outstanding achievement and shows we are certainly moving in the right direction.
"Bringing this group together three months ago, many of whom hadn't played in a long time, was the initial challenge, but the progression they have made from that first game against Worcester to this game against Gloucester, it's almost like a mirror image of the first team."
He added: "Coming into this game we did put a bit of pressure on the boys, especially as they were unbeaten as well, so it was like a cup final for them. All week we talked about being winners and having that right mentality to go out and perform. Well, you saw with this performance, how they reacted because that was our best performance of the season.
"To score 42 points in one half, whoever the opponents are, is very impressive and shows the future is certainly very bright."
Chiefs: B Hammersley; F Nowell, K Gentry, C McCaig, J Nalevea; I Jenkins (capt), W Becconsall; D Arthur, M Pritchard, B Williams; A Sheridan, J King; E Battle, M Mulcahy, M Hallam.
Replacements: W Cornish, L Newstead, T Gulley, B Spence, E Baldry, J Hocking, F Musgrove, S Walker, B Parsons, A Fleming.