Radio Exe Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 17 – 14 Exeter Chiefs

cup match report.jpg

An uncharacteristic performance from Exeter Chiefs saw them held scoreless in the first half at Kingsholm and, despite a second half resurgence, Gloucester emerged victors in the Premiership Rugby Cup Semi-Final.

A knock-on from an attempted trick play from the Chiefs brought the shed to life early on in the encounter, and they stayed rowdy as Gloucester were to be the only men on the scoreboard in the first 40 minutes.

Chiefs were sucked into playing ball too long with an advantage to come, and Gloucester seized their first opportunity to steal ball. Zach Mercer – a stand out in the opening half – took ball from the base of the breakdown to storm through the line. With Lewis Ludlow on his shoulder, he gave the offload to put his captain across the line for the first try of the day. A tight to the touchline conversion wasn’t to be for George Barton.

Settling into their stride, Gloucester secured a second. Battering the Chiefs line with brutal carries, enforcing the Exeter men to come in tight to withstand the pressure, Gloucester whipped the ball wide to Max Llewellyn to shimmy through a gap and over the line. Barton converted for the full contingent of points.

Chiefs’ first opportunity of the afternoon materialised from a line-break from Rusi Tuima. The big second row, who is no stranger to a break through contact with ball in hand, had the pacier Zack Wimbush in support.

The centre in turn found Greg Fisilau followed by Ehren Painter within inches of the line. Held-up on the whitewash, an earlier penalty advantage for off-side meant the Chiefs weren’t out of the fight. However, after three further attempts at breaching the Gloucester line, the Exeter men were sent packing without any score to their name when their last attempt was held-up.

Tom Cairns hampered down field underneath a high ball, looking to secure territory in the Gloucester half, but the ball bounced loose only to be gathered by Ruan Ackerman. Feeding ball immediately to the wide channels, Mercer ran onto the pass for another break. As Josh Hodge rushed to meet the tough carrying forward at the edge of his 22, Mercer dotted the ball off a boot for Josh Hathaway to run onto for the try.

Chiefs went in search of points as the half ticked to a close. Camped again on the Gloucester line, the returning Scott Sio thought he had got a big paw over the line for the try. However, having consulted his TMO, referee Christophe Ridley deemed the ball to have been lost before the grounding and so drew the half to a frustrating end for the Chiefs.

Half-time: Gloucester 17 – 0 Chiefs

If the first half was frustrating for Chiefs, the second half got off to a start that was much the same and then some. Opportunities came the Chiefs’ way but handling errors or the quick defiance of the Gloucester defence kept them from the try line at each attempt.

It was by no means a patient wait, but Chiefs had points on the board as the clock struck an hour played. Looking for speed of ball in the 22, Chiefs went with quick consecutive carries to get within a metre of the line before a spiral to a storming Jacques Vermeulen in front of the posts saw the big back-rower clatter through underneath the posts. Harvey Skinner then took the simple conversion.

Having got the taste for it, Chiefs secured their second shortly thereafter. With a penalty in front of the posts in the 22, they instead elected to go for the corner option. It proved to be the correct choice as the Chiefs maul rumbled steadily towards and over the line, Ross Vintcent emerging from the base with ball in hand as the try scorer. Skinner’s conversion made it a three-point game.

It wasn’t to be for Chiefs, however. Gloucester resurged in the final five minutes as penalties cost the Exeter side yards and the hosts were able to pin Chiefs back into their own 22. With a final penalty with seconds left on the clock, the Shed went wild as, by knocking it into touch, Gloucester secured the first place in the Premiership Rugby Cup Final.

Full-time: Gloucester 17 – 14 Chiefs

Gloucester: L Evans; A Hearle, M Llewellyn, S Atkinson (Hillman-Cooper 77’), J Hathaway; G Barton, C Englefield; J Ford-Robinson (Elrington 69’), G McGuigan (Blake 40’), K Gotovtsev (Knight 69’), F Clarke, C Jordan (Clark 73’), R Ackerman (Clement 63’), L Ludlow, Z Mercer.

Unused replacements: Chapman, Morris

Tries: Ludlow, Llewellyn, Hathaway Conversions: Barton

Chiefs: J Hodge; B Hammersley, Z Wimbush, O Devoto (Rigg 59’), A Relton; H Skinner, T Cairns (Becconsall 54’); S Sio (Southworth 45’), M Norey (Yeandle 45’), E Painter (Iosefa-Scott 45’), R Tuima (Dunne 58’), L Pearson, J Vermeulen, R Capstick, G Fisilau (Vintcent 58’).

Unused replacements: Jenkins

Tries: Vermeulen, Vintcent Conversions: Skinner 2

Referee: Christophe Ridley

Sign up to the Chiefs Newsletter

To receive a copy of the Exeter Chiefs Newsletter, please enter your email address below. You will then receive an email to confirm that you wish to receive it. You can unsubscribe at any time simply by following the link at the bottom of the email.