Radio Exe Match Report: Sale Sharks 41 – 5 Exeter Chiefs

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Having held Sale Sharks scoreless at Sandy Park earlier in the season, Exeter Chiefs spent a bruising day on the end of a similar 41-5 result at the Salford Community Stadium in Round 14 of the Gallagher Premiership.

The theme of the encounter was set in minute one as Ross Vintcent was split open in his first contact of the game. As the Chiefs’ Italian international was in the blood bin, Sharks were awarded a penalty on the Exeter 10 metre line when Chiefs strayed offside at a lineout. George Ford struck the kick strongly but the ball drifted wide of the uprights.

A deliberate slap down of the ball from Manu Tuilagi when the Chiefs were trying to move ball wide earned the Exeter men a chance to go for touch. Moving ball quickly off the lineout, Exeter looked for yards in the Sharks half, but Immanuel Feyi-Waboso found himself isolated and Bevon Rodd was able to get himself over the breakdown for a turnover.

Playing through the phases, it looked like it may be former Chiefs man Tom O’Flaherty who was to be first on the scoresheet, however, he was well met by Harvey Skinner. Working back across field, winger Tom Roebuck spotted an overlap to skip in for the score. Ford, in his second attempt at the tee, secured the conversion.

With the chance of a second score looming shortly thereafter, Sharks opted to go for the corner and the maul drive. However, the ball slipped through Luke Cowan-Dickie’s hands where he steered the drive from the rear and the Chiefs were awarded the scrum.

Sharks topped up their score when Richard Capstick was penalised for playing the nine at the breakdown as frustration boiled over with Gus Warr. Ford opted to go for the posts, striking the ball clean for the three points.

To rub salt into the wound of an already tough first half for the Chiefs, Sale’s second try on just shy of half an hour played came from a maul drive with the ball tucked tightly in the grip of former Chief, Cowan-Dickie. Ford slotted the conversion for a 17-0 lead.

Chiefs were reduced to 14 men with five minutes left in the half as full-back Josh Hodge was shown a yellow card for a knock-on as he attempted to intercept a wide pass meant for Roebuck on the wing.

Not content with their early points haul, Sharks scored a third on the stroke of half-time. Ducking and diving their way into the Chiefs’ 22, Sharks’ speed of ball and pop offloads released scrum half Gus Warr for the short run-in to score. Ford’s conversion attempt drifted wide to end the half.

Half-time: Sharks 22 – 0 Chiefs

Sharks started the second half as they had finished the first – adding to their points tally. Confusion under a short box kick from Warr meant Roebuck was able to slip past Dafydd Jenkins and Stu Townsend for a run-in down the touchline. Despite the ball at first falling off the tee, Ford re-set to successfully convert the score.

Freshly back into Premiership action from international duty, it was Feyi-Waboso who scored the only try of the day for Chiefs after a 49-minute wait. Spotting an option out wide for the winger, Skinner and Henry Slade drew in the defenders before a long spin pass was thrown out to the England star for the run-in.

Sale secured their fifth score in an Exeter-esque manner as replacement scrum half Raffi Quirke backed himself with the quick-tap five metres out after a penalty against Chiefs at the breakdown. In a slightly confusing turn of events, Ford missed the conversion from just left of the posts metres out.

The pace of Hodge and Feyi-Waboso sparked a fire just shy of the hour as the two backs combined to launch the Chiefs down field from their own 22 to metres short of their opponents’. A loose pass couldn’t find Dan Frost however and Roebuck got a boot to ball. He thought he’d run near the length to score with Olly Woodburn in chase but was deemed to have knocked the ball on over the goal-line.

Not to be denied a hatrick, Roebuck seized upon the opportunity created by a loose defensive line from Chiefs minutes later to score Sharks’ sixth of the day which Ford converted to break the 40-point barrier.

The Chiefs replacements sought to bring energy to the game, but the encounter had already developed into a loose and scrappy affair in which both sides scrambled to maintain possession. Ultimately, in the end, Sharks were too determined to see out the win as penalties cost Chiefs throughout the day.

Full-time: Sharks 41 – 5 Chiefs

Sharks: J Carpenter; T Roebuck, R Du Preez, M Tuilagi (James 66’), T O’Flaherty; G Ford, G Warr (Quirke 53’); B Rodd (Harrison 58’), L Cowan-Dickie (Taylor 58’), J Harper (Opoku-Fordjour 58’), C Wiese, J Beaumont, E Van Rhyn (Dugdale 9’), B Curry (Andrews 66’), JL Du Preez (Bamber 60’).

Tries: Roebuck 3, Cowan-Dickie, Warr, Quirke Conversions: Ford 3 Penalties: Ford

Chiefs: J Hodge; I Feyi-Waboso, H Slade, W Rigg (Wimbush 55’), O Woodburn; H Skinner (Haydon-Wood 58’), S Townsend (Cairns 53’); S Sio (Southworth 46’), J Yeandle (Frost 46’), E Painter (Street 46’), D Jenkins, C Tshiunza, R Vintcent (Pearson 1’, Vintcent 9’), R Capstick (Dunne 58’), G Fisilau (Pearson 53’).

Tries: Feyi-Waboso

Yellow card: Josh Hodge

Referee: Hamish Smales

Attendance: 7,103

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