Wasps 31 Chiefs 42

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Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade dives over for his second try in his side's 42-31 victory against Wasps at thew Ricoh Arena. Picture: Getty Images

Wasps 31

Exeter Chiefs 42

Mark Stevens at the Ricoh Arena

Rob Baxter’s Exeter Chiefs side made it a ‘perfect ten’ as they saw off rivals Wasps at the Ricoh.

Maximum reward the week previous against Leicester Tigers, Devon’s finest again put up an impressive showing, securing six tries and putting them in pole position of the Gallagher Premiership after two rounds.

England stars Sam Simmonds and Henry Slade both both bagged a brace, while there were further touchdowns for Santiago Cordero and Don Armand. Fly-half Gareth Steenson completed the job, finishing with a sublime seven from seven kicks.

Wasps, it has to be said, played their part in a great encounter. They netted themselves a try-scoring bonus through tries from Elliot Daly, Josh Bassett, Nathan Hughes and Dan Robson, while the remainder of their points were shared between the boots of Billy Searle and new signing Lima Sopoaga.

Fresh from an impressive opening day win over Leicester Tigers, Baxter was forced into change for this latest meeting. Injuries to both Nic White and Olly Woodburn meant they missed out, so into the starting line-up came Stuart Townsend and Henry Slade.

Slade’s elevation almost meant there was a first-ever Chiefs outing for summer signing Alex Cuthbert, who had safely negotiated a 40-minute run-out on Monday for the Braves away to Saracens.

Wasps, meanwhile, were also looking to build on their victory at Worcester the week previous. Day Young handed a first start to England international Brad Shields, while All Blacks playmaker Sopoaga was named amongst the replacements for the first time.

Chiefs winger Santiago Cordero on his way to scoring his first-ever try for the club. Picture: www.jmpuk.com

It was, however, one of the home side’s more established names who gave them the dream start. Just three minutes had elapsed when Daly was able to gobble up a loose pass midway inside the Chiefs half. Still with plenty to do, the full-back stepped back inside before turning on the after burners to race in under the sticks for the opening score, converted by Searle.

Exeter looked to counter almost immediately through an arcing run from Phil Dollman, but as he threatened down the left, Wasps were able to scramble sufficiently to deny the threat.

The Chiefs, though, were quickly back on the offensive and on 12 minutes they drew level. Having positioned themselves deep inside the Wasps half with a scrum, Baxter’s side decide to go wide, switching possession from left to right, where it fell into the arms of Cordero.

Gifted the perfect platform from which to attack, the Argentinian speedster did not need a second invite, producing fast feed and a powerful leg drive to power his way over for a first-ever try in Exeter colours. Steenson slotted the conversion from wide on the right to restore parity.

Visiting joy proved short-lived as straight from the restart, Wasps regained the lead through Bassett. The winger was able to dot down with ease, picking off a grubber kick in behind they fell invitingly into his hands. Again, Searle obliged with the conversion to ensure maximum reward for the Midlanders.

Undeterred, the Chiefs continued to go about their business, refusing to shift away from their game plan that had served them so well seven days earlier.

Undeterred, the Chiefs continued to go about their business, refusing to shift away from their game plan that had served them so well seven days earlier.

And when they were gifted a penalty when Ben Harris infringed on the floor, Slade’s kick to the corner put them in prime position just metres from the home line. Although Wasps knew what was coming, stopping the Exeter eight in full flow is no easy matter - and so it proved as Simmonds stole over for his second try of the season.

Steenson converted that score and Exeter’s third try which arrived just three minutes later through England centre Slade. Having declined a kickable penalty chance in pursuit of higher reward, the Chiefs again worked a lovely opening in midfield, the fruits of which the Plymouth-born back exploited to the full.

In front for the first time, the Chiefs could - and probably should - have added a bonus point try just moments later. Another five-metre line-out was held up on the line, before Ollie Devoto suffered a similar fate on a second wave of attack.

Wasps made the most of the let-off, reducing the arrears with a penalty from Searle, before they regained the lead on the stroke of half time through Hughes. The powerhouse No.8 was able to drive over from close range after Dan Robson had caught the Chiefs unaware with a quickly-taken penalty. Searle added the extras to give his side a three-point cushion at the turn.


After such an absorbing first half, it was the Chiefs who were first to show on the resumption. Two quick-fire penalties enabled them to set up camp deep in the home 22, where once again they were able to make the most of the opportunity.

Having waited for Shields to be attended to following a heavy collision which saw him depart for an HIA assessment, the Chiefs used the resultant line-out to again work the opening for Simmonds to cross for his second score of the contest.

Steenson, as he so often does, landed that conversion and his next attempt, which arrived ten minutes into the half when Slade claimed his second try, picking off a Searle pass just inside his own half, before galloping clear of the chasing Daly and Christian Wade to score.

Nine points clear, it was a slender enough advantage for the Chiefs but, as they have experienced before on trips to Coventry, Wasps have a deadly sting and the home threat needed to be quelled quickly.

Baxter threw on a new-look, international front-row in Messrs Holmes, Cowan-Dickie and Francis, while Young had seen enough and turned to newcomer Sopoaga to try and inject some life into his side.

Like the first half, it was proving a highly entertaining tussle with both sides seemingly willing to attack at any given moment. Home skipper Joe Launchbury threatened from a close-range line-out - only to be dumped into touch by three Exeter defenders - while Armand and Cordero launched another Chiefs raid when they picked off some loose Wasps possession.

Replacement aplenty were added in the dying quarter, including a debut for Cuthbert, but he was unable to do anything to stop Wasps from grabbing a bonus point score with just ten minutes remaining.

Using a five-metre line-out as the foundation, they drove inside with a clever pick-and-go game, which allowed Robson to pick from the base of a ruck. Aided by two team-mates, he was driven in under the posts, Sopoaga converting to set up a thrilling finale.

The score ignited the majority of those inside the Ricoh as the decibel levels went up a few notches, but the Chiefs were sticking to their task manfully. And as the overhead conditions started to worsen, Exeter simply shut up shop, opting for a no-nonsense approach that starved their rivals of possession.

No.8 Sam Simmonds drives over for one of his two tries against Wasps. Picture: www.jmpuk.com

Indeed, as the visitors edged into the final minute, they were the side on the front foot and they put the seal on their success when Armand, a force all afternoon, burrowed his way over the line for a sixth converted score.

Mission accomplished, it ensured last season’s Premiership runners-up of maximum reward once more. Next up is the visit of Sale Sharks in a week’s time.

Wasps: E Daly; C Wade, J Du Jongh, G Lovobalavu, J Bassett; B Searle (L Sopoaga 54), D Robson; B Harris (Z Zhvania 54), T Taylor (T Cruse 54), K Brookes (W Stuart 54); J Launchbury (capt), W Rowlands; B Shields (A Johnson 44), J Atkinson, N Hughes (J Gaskell 53). Replacements (not used): J Simpson, R Miller.

Tries - Daly, Bassett, Hughes, Robson; Conversions - Searle (3), Sopoaga, Penalty - Searle

Chiefs: P Dollman; I Whitten (A Cuthbert 68), H Slade, O Devoto, S Cordero; G Steenson, S Townsend (J Maunder 65); A Hepburn (G Holmes 53), J Yeandle (capt, L Cowan-Dickie 53), T Francis (H Williams 53); O Atkins, S Skinner (T Salmon 11); D Armand, M Kvesic (S Lonsdale 70), S Simmonds. Replacement (not used): J Simmonds.

Tries - Cordero, S Simmonds (2), Slade (2), Armand; Conversions - Steenson (7)

Referee: C Ridley

Attendance: 13,104

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