Scarlets 0 Chiefs 40
Exeter Chiefs 40
Mark Stevens at Parc Y Scarlets
Exeter Chiefs made it back-to-back victories in this season’s Anglo-Welsh Cup, brushing aside the attentions of the Scarlets on their own patch.
For 40 minutes at least, the Welsh region went toe-to-toe with their English counterparts. After that, brute force took hold and with it came a flurry of points for Ricky Pellow’s side.
Shaun Malton, James Freeman and Tom Hendrickson all claimed tries for the visitors, but it was up front where they ruled the roost, inflicting a further three penalty tries on the Scarlets, who were physically no match for the Devonians in the set-piece.
Fly-half Joe Simmonds weighed in with the remainder of Exeter’s points to cap a fine weekend for him and his family, who 24 hours earlier had beamed with delight after old brother Sam had won his first international cap for England in their victory over Argentina at Twickenham.
Looking to build on their impressive opening round victory over Northampton Saints the previous week, it was a largely unchanged Chiefs line-up that took to the field. Welshman Phil Dollman was one of three changes, alongside Sam Hill and Stuart Townsend, in the back division; while up front Toby Salmon came in for his first start, replacing Ollie Atkins in the Exeter engine room.
The Scarlets, meanwhile, were making their first appearance in this season’s competition and they named a youthful looking outfit for the visit of the English champions. With many of their household names missing having been on international duty for Wales the day previous against Australia, this was their chance to shine on a bitterly cold afternoon in the Principality.
And it was the home side who were first out of the traps, producing a powerful opening attacking assault at the Chiefs. The visitors, however, were disciplined in their defensive duties and repelled the early advances with a number of powerful shots to the body.
When the Chiefs did finally infringe, allowing Jack Maynard a simple shot at goal, the Scarlets playmaker screwed his penalty chance wide of the target.
Moments later - and with their first meaningful attack of the game - it was the visitors who broke the deadlock. A powerful shove at scrum time saw the Chiefs win a penalty midway inside the Scarlets half. Simmonds drilled the resultant kick to the corner, Matt Kvesic won the line-out and after a series of close-range drives, it was hooker Malton who burrowed his way over for the opening try.
It was the ideal start for last season’s beaten finalists, whose patient approach and general work around the park was seeing them keep the sprightly Welsh region at arms length.
As the minutes ticked by, so it was Pellow’s side who edged further in front just past the half hour mark. Using their pack to punch significant holes in the home defence, the ‘Red Wall’ was finally dismantled when the ball was worked out to Freeman, who bulldozed his way over the line for his second try in as many games.
Initially, referee Karl Dickson was unsure as to the grounding, but a quick conflab with the TV match official Trevor Fisher confirmed no issues and the try was duly awarded.Simmonds slotted the conversion to put his side 12 points to the good.
With the break just a moment or two away, Maynard saw a second penalty chance slip wide of the mark, while at the other end a decent break-out involving Sam Skinner and Townsend almost released the returning Dave Ewers, but he was unable to hold onto the wet ball and the chance came and went in an instance.
HALF TIME SCARLETS 0 EXETER CHIEFS 12
The Chiefs re-emerged for the second half with Aussie international Greg Holmes introduced into the fray for his first appearance of the season. He came on for Moray Low in the front-row and he was quickly into the action as Exeter started strongly.
Malton threatened initially down the right flank, linking well with Hill, before a quick line-out from Simmonds helped release Kvesic in midfield. The summer signing cut a lovely line through the heart of the home midfield, but as he closed in on the try-line he was swallowed up by the scrambling Scarlets defence.
Undeterred, the Chiefs continued to pile forward in numbers. Kvesic saw a potential try chalked off by the TMO for non-grounding, before a succession of five-metres scrums resulted in referee Dickson awarding the visitors a penalty try.
With the Chiefs dominating, particularly at scrum time where Holmes was giving Rhys Fawcett a torrid time, so the visitors started to flex their muscles in attack. For a period the Scarlets held firm, but having been awarded another five-metre scrum, just before the hour mark, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
Dickson awarded a second penalty try when the Exeter eight propelled their counterparts back at a rate of knots, thus ensuring the try bonus point, and worse was to follow for the hosts as replacement prop Javan Sebastian was yellow-carded for his part in the collapse of the scrum.
The Scarlets could do little to halt the Exeter juggernaut which, by now, was running at full steam ahead. Replacement Hendrickson added try number five when he latched onto a pass from Devoto to steal in under the sticks for a fifth try, converted by Simmonds.
It would get no easier for the Welshmen as prop Steffan Thomas was dispatched to the sidelines for ten minutes when he was penalised for dropping a scrum. Again, the visitors made their numerical advantage pay, forcing a third penalty try out of Dickson as the pressure proved too much for the Welshmen.
Job done, all that was left for the Chiefs to do was to see out the dying embers of the match. They did that will little issue, now the focus switches back to the Premiership and the visit of Harlequins to Devon a week today.
Scarlets: M Williams; M Griffiths (R Fawcett 72), I Nicholas (S Lloyd 61), R Jones, T Rogers; J Maynard (L Williams 73), D Smith (G George 46); R Fawcett (S Thomas 55), D Hughes (T Myhill 65), S Gardiner (J Sebastian 50); J Helps, T Price; J Jones (S Gardiner 61), S Evans (D Davos 51), J Condy.
Yellow Cards: Sebastian, Thomas
Chiefs: P Dollman (H Cully 69); T O’Flaherty, O Devoto, S Hill (T Hendrickson 59), J Short; J Simmonds, S Townsend (J Maunder 46); A Hepburn (C Rimmer 46), S Malton (L Cowan-Dickie 46), M Low (G Holmes h/t); T Salmon, S Skinner; J Freeman, M Kvesic, K Horstmann (capt, D Ewers 21, E Holmes 59).
Tries - Malton, Freeman, Penalty Try (3), Hendrickson; Conversions - J Simmonds (2), Penalty Try (3)
Referee: K Dickson