Gloucester U18s 5 Chiefs U18s 29
By Mark Stevens
Head coach Marek Churcher was full of praise for his Exeter Chiefs Under-18s side after they picked up their first win in this season’s Premiership Rugby Under-18s League with 29-5 Victory at Gloucester.
Although undone in earlier encounters against the likes of Saracens, Bath and Harlequins, there have been seeds of encouragement for Churcher and his fellow coaches to work with. At the weekend, those seeds went into full bloom as the visitors produced their best display of the season, running in tries through Frankie Nowell, Archie Hill, Oli Jeffrey, Charlie Levick and Christ Tshiunza.
Despite falling behind to an early Morgan Veness try, the Chiefs hit back and were level on 16 minutes when turnover ball allowed Iwan Jenkins to instigate a counter attack that saw Hill and Levick combine to send Nowell over in the right corner.
Although Welshman Jenkins was unable to convert that score, he did add the extras to Exeter’s second which arrived just minutes later, centre Hill the scorer on this occasion, finishing off a snipe down the blindside from skipper Tom Cairns, who drew in the cover before shipping the ball off to his team-mate.
With half time fast approaching, the Chiefs extended their lead when hooker Oli Jeffrey rumbled his way over from a well-constructed driving maul. Jenkins again converted to put his side 19-5 to the good at the turn.
Exeter continued to boss proceedings for large parts of the second half and they extended their lead soon after the resumption. Two penalties allowed the visitors to position themselves deep within the Gloucester 22, after which they were able to work the opening for full-back Levick to score in the corner.
Bonus point safely in the bag, the Chiefs put the seal on their performance when the imposing Tshiunza showed real strength to power his way over from a tap penalty just metres from the home line.
Post-game, a delighted Churcher said: “It was an outstanding performance from start to finish. We have been threatening this kind of performance for a few weeks now and it was great to see the hard work of the boys rewarded with the win.
“Not only were we a lot more clinical than we have been previously, but we were a lot more relaxed in our attack and when we needed to ramp up our defence, we did that really well. As I said, I’m really pleased for the whole group because we have played well in the other games, but haven’t quite been able to finish things off.”
The win sets the Chiefs up nicely for this Saturday’s home encounter against table-toppers London Irish a Truro College (12:30pm)
Gloucester: E Goring; M Baron (H Gipson 49), L Shuttleworth (M Adderly-Jones 22), L Hillman-Cooper, J Edwards-Giroud; J Humphreys;, M Jones; T Tyson (H Edwards h/t), M Veness (J Hewitt 43), J Piercy (J Pollard 34, T Tyson 63); A Clark, H Sprague (J Hamilton 43); R Scriven (E Hart 47), F Thomas, H Taylor.
Try – Veness
Chiefs: C Levick; F Nowell, A Hill, C McCaig (J Capaldi h/t), B Orchard (J Carden 54, T Cairns 60); I Jenkins (B Orchard 60), T Cairns (J Pilkngton h/t); E Pearce-Cowley (N Karea h/t), H Hocking (B Grubb 49), H Wikinson (B Williams 54); B Waddell (S Leworthy 9), C Tshiunza; M Hallam, J Elsworth, B Grubb (O Jeffrey 27).
Tries – Nowell, Hill, Jeffrey, Levick, Tshiunza; Conversions – Jenkins (2)
Referee: A Smith