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- Exeter Chiefs
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Exeter Chiefs 52
Mark Stevens at Sandy Park
Exeter Chiefs moved to the top of Pool 2 in this season’s Anglo-Welsh Cup with a ruthless display of finishing against Wasps at Sandy Park.
Ricky Pellow’s side ran in eight tries on the day, five of which came in the first period through Michele Campagnaro (2), Mitch Lees, Sam Simmonds and Stu Townsend, before Shaun Malton, Campagnaro again, and Lachie Turner followed suit in the second half.
A further 12 points from the boot of young fly-half Joe Simmonds completed the job for the Chiefs in front of nearly 10,500 fans.
In a much-changed side to that which had lost in Clermont the week previous, it did not take the Devonians that long to get into their stride. Indeed, the game was just two minutes old when Campagnaro found his way over the whitewash.
The Italian was the beneficiary of a smart Exeter attack, which started with the forwards doing the donkey work, before it was spun out to the backs where Aussie ace Lachie Turner was able to collect and draw the cover before offloading to his team-mate who dotted down in the corner.
However, home cheers were silenced almost immediately when Wasps capitalised on some loose play from the hosts, creating the opportunity for towering lock Will Rowlands to trot over for the uncoverted score.
It would prove the visitors only bright moment during a torrid first 40 minutes for the Midlanders, who had made 15 changes to their line-up from that which had booked a place in the last eight of the Champions Cup with victory in Zebre.
Normal service was resumed for the Chiefs in an instance as the imposing Lees powered his way over for Exeter’s second try on ten minutes, quickly followed by Campagnaro who was able to race in unopposed from halfway after he picked off a telegraphed pass from Craig Hampson.
All three Exeter scores were duly converted by Joe Simmonds, who was then able to add the extras to the bonus point score from older brother Sam, who showed some fancy footwork and blistering pace to scorch his way through the heart of the Wasps defence and in under the sticks.
To say it was one-way traffic was somewhat of an understatement, but the ruthless Chiefs continued to have the hammer down in pursuit of further reward. Determined work from the forwards gleaned them a five-metre scrum which, although it was dropped illegally, then saw Townsend catch the visitors napping, the young scrum-half tapping from close range and driving to the line.
Wasps did their best to try and haul themselves back into the contest late in the first half, but they were met by a miserly Exeter defence, a point underlined when Tom Howe was sent sprawling by a powerful double hit involving Shaun Malton and Sam Skinner.
HALF TIME EXETER CHIEFS 33 WASPS 5
Any thoughts that the Chiefs were happy with their first half lot were quickly extinguished on the resumption as the home side took just six minutes to land their sixth try of the contest.
Clever inter-play involving Turner and Campagnaro got the Chiefs to within sight of the line, before Lees took the ball on where – aided by a colleague or two – Malton then cleverly burrowed low enough to dot the ball down off the post.
Joe Simmonds was again on hand to oblige with the easy conversion to that score and Campagnaro’s hat-trick effort just minutes later, the winger finishing off a slick home move which started on the left wing when Damian Welch took the line-out and the ball was then worked across the field in a flash.
With the resultant beyond doubt, the Chiefs took the opportunity to run their bench, welcoming back Geoff Parling, Will Hooley and Matt Jess after injury, while academy product Joe Snow was handed his first team debut, coming on in the final quarter at scrum-half for Townsend.
Wasps, to their credit, continued to plug away despite the hefty deficit and they came within a whisker of claiming a second try when impressive No.8 Alex Rieder raced clear off a ruck and headed towards the line. However, the forward didn’t quite have the legs to race clear, eventually being swamped by a combination of Turner and Short just shy off the line.
In truth it summed up the collective desire of the Chiefs, who seemed hellbent on defending their line as though their very lives depended on it. Wasps threw everything they could at Pellow’s side in a spirited last stand, but it was seemingly all to no avail.
Indeed, having soaked up a concerted spell of pressure, the Chiefs showed their rivals how it should be done, trawling back down field, creating the platform for Hooley to send a sublime crossfield kick into the right corner, where Turner – leaped like a NBA star – plucking the ball from the air to touchdown and complete a fine day at the office for him and his side.
For the Chiefs, a trip to Bristol now awaits this coming Sunday where they know another polished performance like this will more than likely see them book their place in the last four for a third successive time.
Wasps, on the other hand, will themselves wrap up their campaign against the Ospreys before it’s back down the M5 to Sandy Park where, you can bet your bottom dollar, a much different encounter to this will lie in store for both sides.
Chiefs: L Turner; M Campagnaro, M Bodilly (M Jess 61), S Hill (T Lawday 69), J Short; J Simmonds (W Hooley 62), S Townsend (J Snow 65); C Rimmer (M Low 58), S Malton (J Innard 58), T Francis (J Owlett 55); M Lees (G Parling 55), D Welch; S Skinner (capt), B White, S Simmonds.
Tries – Campagnaro (3), Lees (2), S Simmonds, Townsend, Turner; Conversions – J Simmonds (6)
Wasps: P O’Conor (J Hodson 59); G Armitage, N De Luca (capt), B Macken, T Howe; J Umaga (W Seals 51), C Hampson (W Porter 67); T Bristow (T West 55, T Bristow 74), K Britton, W Stuart (S McIntyre 51); W Rowland (A Johnson 76), M Garratt (E Ehizode 71); A Bone (J Willis 74), J Willis (T Willis 67), A Rieder.
Try – Rowlands
Referee: G MacDonald