Gloucester 22 Exeter Braves 45
Gloucester United 22
Exeter Braves 45
Steve Grace at Kingsholm
Exeter Braves returned to winning ways in this season’s Premiership Rugby Shield, seeing off Gloucester with a seven-try success at Kingsholm.
Undone for the first time this season by Bath last time out, there was no such worries for the Devonians in this latest Southern Conference fixture.
England and British Lions winger Jack Nowell started for the visitors in his first competitive action since picking up a torn hamstring whilst training with Eddie Jones’ squad during the Autumn internationals.
However, it was Academy youngster Sam Maunder who gave the Braves an early lead, the scrum-half stealing over on 15 minutes for the game’s opening try, which was converted by half-back partner Harvey Skinner.
The home response, however, was sharp and within three minutes they had cut the deficit when winger Alex Morgan found his way over the whitewash.
Although the Braves held the edge in the set-piece, particularly at scrum time, it was not until just after the half-hour mark that they were able to add to their tally, the impressive Max Bodilly claiming their second try of the game, again converted by the trusty boot of Skinner.
Charlie Chapman landed a penalty just before the break to cut Exeter’s lead to six points at the turn - and that was soon overturned just four minutes into the second half when the Cherry & Whites claimed a second try, this time through tight-head prop Jack Bartlett, which Chapman was able to convert.
Nowell had departed the contest during the interval after a lively 40-minute display, but it was the forwards who really started to take control of the contest as the half progressed.
Richard Capstick claimed a brace for the Braves to put them 24-15 up before skipper James McRae got himself in on the scoring act, Skinner converting this time around, to put the visitors firmly in control of proceedings.
A converted Chapman try gave Gloucester a glimmer of light midway through the half, but any hopes of a home fightback were soon extinguished as the Braves wrapped up success with late converted tries from Luke Mehson and McRae.
Post-game, Braves coach Haydn Thomas praised his side’s display, saying: “Today was a much better performance than what we showed against Bath a fortnight ago. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought some boys really put in some really big shifts, and it was much more what we’d call an Exeter Chiefs performance.
“A lot of hard work and effort was put in by the guys and we’re delighted to have picked up the victory and the five points, which keeps us top of the table and all to play for with just three rounds to go.”
Gloucester: R Dunn (J Skelton 68); A Morgan, J Morris, J Reeves, L Rees_Zammit (E Fenley 62); D Coetzer, C Chapman (W Mansfield 72); K Traynor (O Atkins h/t), H Fowke, J Bartlett (F Pelser 72); J Ward, S Twomey (A Tarbuck 70); J Mullis, A Hinkley, C Terry
Tries - Morgan, Bartlett, Chapman; Conversions - Chapman (2); Penalty - Chapman
Exeter Braves: S Morley; J Nowell (S Cornish h/t), M Bodilly, B Karea, J Short (L Mehson h/t); H Skinner, S Maunder (P Thompson 70); B Keast (J Kenny 62), J Innard (M Norey 62), M Street (P Schickerling 68); T Salmon, J Caulfield; J McRae, R Capstick, R Tuima (F Elworthy). Replacement (not used): J Clemson
Tries - S Maunder, Bodilly, Capstick (2), McRae (2), Mehson; Conversions - H Skinner (4)
Referee: D Collins