Exmouth coach Jon Hill, reflecting on the game, said:
If ever there was a time that we need everyone pulling in the right direction it is now. One game to play and we really are in the realms of must win territory having put in a below par first half performance in yesterday's basement battle.
We dominated territory and possession throughout the game and spent a lot of time in Lydney's 22 only for us to make errors at crucial times. Something we have to be better at, and all stick to the same page at critical moments. Our effort in the second half was huge, and Matt Ryan really added some impetus at 9 speeding up the game and carrying a genuine threat around the fringe.
Lydney were lively and highly motivated, some mentioning that they want to be in the east division, rather than the west, and as such required us or Ivybridge to go down. Regardless of whether this to be true or not, they were tough opposition on their own patch in their final league game, and had a clear and effective game plan.
Unfortunately for us, we blew too many opportunities, and lived to rue three defensive errors in the first half , where Lydney punished us. Missed tackles, slow reactions and some opportunist play from the hosts meant we had a mountain to climb.
The postmortem needs to wait, we all need to pull tight, look each other in the eye and have a genuine desire to pull the jersey on next week and do ourselves and the club badge proud.
There is no doubt we have underachieved this season. But we are where we are, and have our future in our own hands. Please come and get behind us next week as we look to save our season and ensure we leave the shirt in a good place for next season.
Exmouth 25 Newbury 24
A tough and heartbreaking end to a promising performance on the road means that the relegation battle continues for at least another week and most probably two.
Jon Hill, Exmouth coach, said: "All other results went against us, and it is now important that we pick ourselves up and focus in on Lydney away next Saturday which is now an absolute must win game.
"After 60 minutes of today's game we seemed to be coasting to victory but somehow contrived to lose the game by the finest of margins, and offer Newbury a lifeline in their own battle for survival. 13 points up, 15 or so minutes left, and plenty of drama followed.
"An interception try for Newbury against the run of play, a couple of missed penalty opportunities by ourselves, and a breakaway try for Newbury put us under pressure. In the final five minutes we were held up over the line, had a good shout for a penalty try waved away, and then knocked on with the final play of the game, turning a very kick able penalty opportunity down in favour of a scrum. The players gave it their all, but too many errors closing out the game have been seriously damaging.
"Henry Goldson, fresh from two weeks away overseas topped up his tan and his try scoring exploits with two more for the season. Tom Whelan, fresh from his three weeks overseas and his engagement party, made some decent line breaks , one which led to a score. Sam Richardson, fresh from his overseas exploits and his engagement, carried well and made good inroads into the Newbury Defence. The reliable duo of Dave Bargent and James Harris were huge in the back row carrying and tackling everything that moved. Sam Fellows had perhaps his best game for the club at full back, and would be my choice for man of the match. Birthday Boy Tom Steer, who stepped in at late notice for the ill Mark Wathes, scored his first try for the 1st xv. Worryingly we lost Influential prop Nick Halse in the first half to injury, and lost Sam Richardson with a nasty looking knock to the knee.
"A big training week ahead, with numbers back in the county and the country, it's now time to roll our sleeves up and go in search of a long overdue and much needed away victory. A win today would have sealed our place in the league, these are fine margins indeed.
"On two final notes, big congratulations to the Nomads who wrapped up the Devon Merit Table league title today with victory over a Sidmouth 2nd xv. Tinners and his men will celebrate in style and look to sober up for next Saturdays re-arranged home game against Honiton. It has been a fine season for the Nomads, and Tinners and his team who have worked tirelessly to achieve the unthinkable in a league loaded with 2nd teams. A great achievement.
"Finally, a big plea to get behind the Colts tomorrow in their Final against Exeter Youth, at Sandy Park , with a 1pm kick off. JJ has been a father figure to many of the team, having worked with them for the last number of years coming up through the youth system. For the Likes of Harry Ottaway, Ethan Langson-Justice, Matt Seager, Tom Cooke , Sam Fulthorpe, Joel Ranft, Joe Craven, Finn Urmston and Joe Oats , to name a few this will be the end of a 13 year journey together through the age groups , culminating in a Final at Sandy Park. What a way to end the 'youth' journey before officially graduating into the Seniors. Please support JJ, Ian, Grant and the lads as they look to sign off in style."
Exmouth RFC 21 Weston-Super-Mare 29
A 24-point half time deficit was too much to claw back in the second half as the Cockles away form took another hit.
Jon Hill, Exmouth coach, said: "Missing seven first team regulars and affected by the fact that we had played no game for a number of weeks, our lack of game time and team unity showed against a side, buoyed on by their victory last week.
"The reality is, with a number of key players missing, we were always going to be up against it. Having chose to play into the wind, a ten to fourteen point deficit at half time would have been manageable, such was the strength of the conditions. As it was, two sloppy tries to concede, and one opportunist try from the hosts off turnover ball proved too much to overcome in the second half comeback.
"A poor set piece return in the second half proved costly, and fair play to Weston, they deserved their victory. They plugged territory well, kept the ball better than ourselves, and we made too many basic errors and showed poor discipline.
"Missing the scrummaging nous of Tom Barnard, the line out skills of Ben Hawley and Sam Richardson, and the breakdown skills of James Harris, our pack competed admirably, but lacked a little detail. Our line out faulted in the second half, and meant that we ended up tapping penalties rather then relying on a drive maul game from line out that has served us well all season. Our backs, missing the leadership and direction of Tom Whelan and George Meadows, and the cutting edge of Richard Bright and Jack Downie offered flashes and a good counter attack game, but haven't played together before and it showed.
"Harry Ottaway, a current Colt and Devon Under 18's player, had a good game at fly half, and will become a much better player for the experience. Max Keen and Pete Ingoldsby worked tirelessly in a rejigged back row following a first half injury to Davy McGregor, and formed an effective combination with stand in number 8 Dave Bargent, who gained the man of the match award. Matt Ryan moved to 9 in the last quarter, and a offered a big threat around the fringe.
"With the gap in league points between fifth and twelfth closing all the time, it is important that we regroup , work hard, and focus on the next block of fixtures that can cement our position in this league for another year. This league is very tight this season, with standards improving all the time. Cleve away next weekend becomes a big challenge and one that we must be hugely motivated and focused on.
"The Mighty Nomads kept up their promotion push from Devon Merit Table 2 with an impressive victory over Kingsbridge 2nd xv. The Colts also won, with an impressive 15-0 victory over Devon rivals Newton Abbot. Well done to Tinners, JJ and the boys."
Exmouth Rugby Club triumphant in Devon derby
Exmouth beat Newton Abbot 24-21 in Saturdays Devon derby.
A superb second half performance from the Cockles achieved not only victory against bitter rivals Newton Abbot but also confirmed 100% of home victories in this seasons Devon League Derbies.
19 points from key man Tom Whelan (1 try, 1 con , 4 penalties), and a try for Mark Wathes was enough to see off Newton, who fielded their new Tongan International in the back row. Last time out, Newton fielded Samoan International JJ, and their latest South Sea Islander looked to make an impact in the game with his big ball carrying, and hard hitting style.
Head Coach Jon Hill said:
"Time and time again we repelled Newton with some hard hitting of our own. We demonstrated a huge team spirit and work ethic and had to work hard for our victory. One particular hit from Charlie Gibbings in the first half really set the tone for us as we grew into the game.
"I was disappointed with our completion rate in the first half. We dominated territory and possession but wasted six good opportunities in their 22. We lacked accuracy and Newton showed their strength at the breakdown and in the line out.
"We were hampered by the loss of player forwards coach Dave Bargent who is such an influential player for us, after he had to drop out on the morning of the game. In a side also missing Captain Jack Fahy , and influential back three player Richard Bright, we were also then forced into a reshuffle when we lost key line out forward Ben Hawley to injury after 20 minutes. I felt that it took us a little bit of time to settle , and find our rhythm at line out because of the disruption, but when we did , we caused problems in broken field play when we generated momentum.
"Our scrum was strong, and in the second half, we made numerous line breaks by targeting weaker defenders , and some gaps around the fringe. Lloyd Watkins, in particular was strong around the fringe and set up Wathes' try from a sniping break. Mike Richards probably had his best game of the season in the engine room, and made a series of big carries to give us momentum.
"Credit to Newton who picked off some of our more lumpy forwards in the first half by playing with some good width. After half time, However, I felt that we dominated a 30 minute spell by playing at pace and with width , in a back line orchestrated by the impressive Man of the Match George Meadows and his fellow midfield partner in Tom Whelan.
"Another Devon Derby victory and as per the first game against Newton, another fine display of place kicking from both sides , with former Cockle Rob Avery Wright also impressing off the tee for the visitors.
"A big challenge now is for us to build on yesterday's performance and find some consistency. It is always easy to motivate yourself to play in a Devon Derby, against a side fielding a current International , but now the big test is to string together a series of performances. Fahy, Bargent, Bright, Lewis Cooper, Nick Headley and Matt Ryan will all be hoping to push for selection next week , but it will be hard to justify rotating anyone after impressive displays all round. "
World's best darts players to visit Exeter
The world's top darts stars will return to Westpoint on March 1st 2018 as the Premier League makes its annual visit to the city.
Reigning Unibet Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen, ranked number 1 in the world, won the competition in 2016 and 2017 and will be competing in Exeter for his third trophy in three years.
Darts' widest-reaching tournament sees ten players competing across 16 successive Thursday nights from February to May in different locations across the UK. Westpoint Exeter will stage the event for a tenth time this year, having first hosted the prestigious competiton in 2009 as it becomes one of the tournaments regular stopping points.
Players taking to the stage in Exeter are:
Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen
Gareth Steenson hits post with conversion kick as Chiefs fall short against second bottom Worcester in the Premiership.
By Sam Sterrett
Exeter Chiefs returned to Premiership action this afternoon after two Anglo Welsh Cup matches.
With recharged frontline players, the chiefs were looking to bounce back to winning ways in the league following an unexpected defeat against Newcastle Falcons last month. Before kick of commenced, 29 points separated top of the table Exeter to second bottom Worcester who have lost seven consecutive Premiership games.
After 20 minutes, no points were scored with no clear-cut chances created. Possession and territory wise, it was an even contest. It took a long waited 24 minutes for the first score. Kicking with a strong wind behind them, Worcester successfully kicked a penalty to give them a 3-point lead.
The frustration was building around Sandy Park as the home fans were somewhat shocked with their unusual home display. Littered with handling errors, the Chiefs couldn’t seem to keep the ball and work their way up the field.
It nearly got worse for the Champions. One minor error can change the complexion of the game, and a Chiefs handling mistake on half way nearly did just that. A mix up between the Exeter backs allowed Worcester to run straight through the heart of Exeter’s defence. Luckily, the pace of new boy Cordero, with the help of Don Armand, nicked the ball back to clear Exeter’s lines.
Eventually, the Chiefs built some rare momentum, winger Olly Woodburn was given the freedom to stretch his legs for the first time. However, the winger was halted a couple of meters short before the visitors turned the ball over.
To end the first half, Worcester, playing with the advantage, doubled their lead with another penalty kick in front of the posts.
An extremely uncommon sight to see. The Champions of English rugby, playing on home turf, scored no points in the first half.
Half time: Exeter 0 Worcester 6
Straight from kick off, Exeter’s Dave Ewers was penalised for taking the ball into contact. As a result, Worcester kicked for touch and soon found themselves just 5 meters short. Woodburn made a tremendous try saving tackle, however, with the advantage in Worcester’s favour, the visitors were awarded a penalty and opted to kick at goal. The attempted kick was caught up in the swirling wind and fell short.
The fans found their voices as Exeter launched their first attack of the half.
Chiefs prop Thomas Waldrom, who recently announced he will be leaving the club this season, broke through Worcester’s line of defence showing excellent footwork sidestepping his defender at pace. Agonisingly short, he was tackled by the defenders in pursuit.
On the back of his run, Exeter set camp inside Worcester’s 22 and won a penalty in front of the posts. Showing great confidence, Steenson kicked for the corner rather than taking the easy three points. It paid off. Sandy Park erupted as Mitch Lees powered his way over the line from a driven maul. Steenson hit the post with his attempted conversion - which proved a crucial miss.
With the clock counting down, Worcester were more than happy working the ball through the forwards maintaining possession. When Exeter finally turned the ball over, they had under 10 to score. But by that point, the fans had seen enough, hundreds left the ground early.
The Chiefs couldn’t manage a comeback. Full time: Exeter 5 Worcester 6
Attendance: 10, 666
Nowell full of praise for Chiefs teammate Simmonds
By Sam Sterrett
Exeter Chiefs forward Jack Nowell has labelled England's number 8 as 'one of the quickest' he's played with.
Sam Simmonds quickly stamped his authority in the England team by scoring two tries on his Six Nations debut for England. The 23 year old, who started the game against Italy on Sunday (4th February), made the most tackles by any player in an England shirt (16) helping his side to an emphatic 46-15 victory in Rome.
His Exeter teammate Jack Nowell, who recently returned from a long term ankle injury, also put his name on the score sheet. The winger touched down in the corner after coming off the bench in the second half. Speaking to the media after the game, Nowell praised newcomer Simmonds for a huge impact on the encounter.
"For him to pick up two tries and play as well as he did was pleasing for him and the coaches will be happy," said Nowell.
"He's a bit of a freak, isn't he? He's up there with one of the quickest I've ever played with. A lot of players have been saying how quick he is, but he's got a big backside so that's where the power comes from.
"He's been doing it all season for us at Exeter, and for the last couple of years, so for him to be able to put on an England shirt and do it on the big stage like this is awesome."
With twenty minutes to play, four Exeter Chiefs players were on the field including 24 year-old Alec Hepburn who made his England debut. To share such an amazing memory alongside his Exeter team-mates was special said Nowell.
"It was awesome to have all the Chiefs boys on the pitch at the end," he added. "For Alec Hepburn to come on and win his first cap was great and a special moment."
Due to England duties, Exeter's four star players won't be available for the Premiership Champions against Worcester on Saturday.
Rob Baxter's men currently have a five point lead at the top of the Aviva Premiership. With their big stars absent, how will his side adapt with the rotation of the starting 15? Showing good strength and depth in the squad, Exeter's youngsters thumped Saracens in the Anglo Welsh cup last weekend to show Rob Baxter they are more than capable of playing first team rugby for Exeter.
Bournemouth 28 Exmouth 7
Jon Hill, Exmouth coach, reflects on Saturdays game against Bournemouth:
"Sometimes games are won and lost on very fine margins, and without doubt, even though we played the second half with 14 players, we were on the wrong side of very fine margins today.
"At 13-7 down, with ten mins to play, I felt that we really could have won the game 14-13 , as we were dominating field position and possession. We worked so hard as a team with a man down, following the red card to Captain Jack Fahy four minutes into the second half, and had a number of good opportunities to score in the second half.
"You have to give full credit to Bournemouth for the way they defended inside their 22, in what was a full blooded affair with both teams throwing everything at each other throughout. There was a bite to the game , and the man in the middle was keen to make an impact in the game , brandishing cards and pitch changes to ensure everyone knew who was in charge. Sometimes you have to adapt to the way the game is managed , and I am not sure we were able to effectively reset ourselves following some key decisions that went against us. This is something we need to work on as a team.
"Two tries, and a penalty to Bournemouth in the last few minutes of the game flattered the score line, but credit to them for taking their chances in the 22 which was the difference between the two sides on the day.
Harry Ottaway had a decent debut at full back and is certainly one for the future, and Sam Fellows gave a good account of himself on his debut too. In a side missing the likes of established 1st teamers Whelan, Bright, Halse, McGregor, Hawley and Ryan , nobody could ever question to work rate and commitment levels of the 18 man squad who gave everything. We lacked a little bit of accuracy and discipline in our play in their 22 and this is a work on for us."
Eddie Jones praises Sam Simmonds performance for England
By Sam Sterrett
Making his Six Nations debut for England, Exeter Chiefs number 8 Sam Simmonds scored two tries as England thumped Italy in Rome.
Due to the absence of Billy Vunipola and Mark Hughes, Simmonds was given the opportunity to perfrom on the big stage, and it's fair to say he grasped the opportunity with both hands and showed the nation his capabilities.
Simmonds made an impressive 23 tackles in the game - the most by any England player. He also scored two tries and made the most metres and joint most carries. The 23 year-olds performance certainly caught the eye of Englands head coach Eddie Jones:
"When the game opened up he was in his element," said the England head coach. "He's got gas. He does all our speed work with the backs. He's a great discovery for us and gives us great options at No 8.
We can see where we're building towards in the future. We know we're off in certain areas. We know the progress we have to make. But we are making it. I think at least what people saw out there was a team being competitive, playing proper rugby with a lot more to come."
Simmonds Exeter teammate Jack Nowell, who recently returned from a long term ankle injury, scored a try too. Meanwhile, Alec Hepburn made his England debut and Harry Williams featured in the game along side him.
To the annoyance of Rob Baxter, Director Of Rugby at Exeter Chiefs, Exeter's four star players wont be able to play for the Premiership Champions against Worcester on Saturday.
Exeter Chiefs 43 Saracens 20
A rampant Exeter Chiefs side score 6 tries to overcome Saracens and secure a home semi final in the Anglo Welsh Cup.
By Sam Sterrett
A young Exeter Chiefs side, managed by Exeter’s skill coach Rickie Pellow, took on Worcester Warriors in the Anglo Welsh Cup last weekend and lost 31-24. Pellow knew only a bonus point victory against Saracens would see his side progress into the next round of the competition.
Sarries on the other hand, came into this game pumped full of confidence after beating Leicester in the same competition 29-20.
Looking to stamp their authority in the first team, the Chiefs youngsters looked to impress with every given opportunity. And Tom O’Flaherty did just that. Within 10 minutes, Chiefs took the lead.
Following a penalty on the half way line, Joe Simmonds kicked the ball deep inside Saracens 22. Winning the line out, Exeter worked several phases of attacks with a good combination between the forwards and the backs. When they worked the ball out wide, the Saracens defence was stretched and allowed O’Flaherty to score Exeter’s first try of the game. Sam Simmons was narrowly unsuccessful with the conversion attempt.
Straight from the restart, Exeter stole possession and launched another promising attack. In quick succession, they turned their early domination into more points. Finding themselves just 5 meters out, the Chiefs were awarded a scrum under the posts. The experienced Thomas Waldrum picked up the ball from the base and fed Ollie Devoto who dived over the line. This time, Simmonds successfully kicked the extras.
The Chiefs fans were still celebrating their second try when the hosts scored a third – they couldn’t quite believe it.
A clever kick from Jake Maunder pinged Saracens back in their own 22. The line out was disrupted, Chiefs turned the ball over, several phases later Moray Low was driven over the line. Simmonds again with the extras.
For the first time in the game, the visitors breached Exeter’s defence. Tom Whitely showed electric pace to touch down in the corner. The attempted conversion hit the post keeping the score at 19-5.
Just as Saracens looked to score their second try, the ball was knocked on 5 meters out. In a blink of an eye, Exeter countered through the forwards. It was Exeter’s new signing who worked the magic. Santiago Cordero skipped past 4 players to set free Jack Maunder who scored his second of the game, Exeter’s bonus point try. Simmonds once again successful with the conversion.
It was try galore in the opening 40 minutes, Sarries bagged themselves another 5 points. Rotimi Segun scored in the corner after some slick off-loading by the Saracens backs. Malins couldn’t convert the kick.
In the dying embers of the first half, Saracens won a penalty under the posts. Opting for the line out, Max Malins exploited a hole in Exeter’s defence to score another 5 points for Sarries. For the third time, their attempted conversion was missed. Never the less, the visitors reduced the deficit to just two scores leading into the break.
Half time: Exeter 26 Saracens 15
With Exeter securing the bonus point, all they had to focus on was a strong defensive second half display.
In Ricky Pellow’s eyes, the best form of defence is attack. And Exeter’s fifth try was a one-man attack. Ollie Deveoto showed sublime upper body strength to break through several tackles and touch down under the posts. Simmonds eagle eyed with the boot.
The Chiefs really started the enjoy themselves. Yet again, the Saracens defence was stretched allowing the Chiefs wingers space in behind to exploit. When the ball fell into the hands of O’Flaherty, another try was inevitable. He dived over the line to score Exeter’s 2nd try in 2 minutes. With the wind picking up, swirling its was around the ground, Simmonds couldn’t capitalise on maximum points.
It was fair to say, the high expectations of the first half didn’t live up to the second. Exeter’s new signing, Cordero has impressed on his Chiefs debut, he produced several darting runs and seems to pass defenders with ease.
With everything going Exeter’s way, Saracens were given a boost. Chiefs player Murray Low received a yellow card for an off the ball tackle. Directly after the incident, Saracens took full advantage and scored another try from a driving maul – conversion missed.
However, Exeter cancelled out any chance of a comeback, giving fans a sigh of relief, Paul Davis scored Exeter’s trademark catch and drive try – Chiefs sixth of the encounter.
Full time: Exeter 43 Saracens 20
Attendance: 12, 437
Exeter v Saracens match preview
Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow, Anglo Welsh Cup manager for Exeter, insists his side will be going ‘all-out’ for victory against Saracens tomorrow.
By Sam Sterrett
Exeter suffered a huge blow last weekend when Worcester knocked them off top spot in their group. That said, Northampton Saints need a victory to thrust them into the last four and Pellow is hopeful the Midlanders could prosper and keep his side’s hopes alive for another 24 hours at least.
The Chiefs must then overcome Saracens tomorrow with maximum reward to secure qualification. Pellow remains upbeat ahead of the fixture and has challenged his players to bounce back from last week’s upset.
“By Friday night we’ll know where we are and what we may or may not need to do,” said Pellow. “Whatever the outcome, though, we have talked about this week about the need to put in a performance to be proud of. We want to finish the competition strongly, either to push for qualification into the semi-finals, or to finish with as many points as we can.
“All week we’ve talked about trying to make the weekend all about ourselves. We’ve looked at areas we were not happy with last week, and if we can put those things into place, I think we can cause Saracens a few problems.”
“We saw enough last week to give us plenty of encouragement moving forward. The positives were certainly there and this competition, we know, always throws up one or two players you kind of knew of, but didn't know if they could really step up to that level as soon as they have."
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale admits his side needs to improve away form
Exeter City travel to Notts County on Saturday
By Sam Sterrett
City have lost their last five League Two games away from home. Tisdale says there has been something missing from their performances when you compare it to the displays at St James Park.
Speaking to the clubs website, he said: “I think we have got to do better,” said Tis. “I think there has been the odd game or two where we have started really well and we looked like a team that wasn’t going to lose a game – notably Yeovil away and Chesterfield away but there has been something that has been missing that we have had at home.
“I think we have got to be careful not to overthink it as well. You get these strange little quirks in a league season and you can look into it and dig deep and actually sometimes it is just about mentality and a purpose and an intensity to your play that gets things back on track.
“So I am trying to get the balance right between overthinking things and just getting the players to be at their best.”
Notts County will be no easy encounter he added.
“They are definitely one of the league pacesetters and it is a good barometer for us, especially away from home,” said Tis. “We have had some poor form away from home recently so it is a good challenge for us.”
Team news. Captain Jordan Moore-Taylor is rated as 50/50 for Saturday’s game at Meadow Lane. Troy Brown and Luke Croll are both back in training as well but will not be fit for the match against County.
Exeter Chiefs name strong side to face Glasgow Warriors on Saturday
The Chiefs know only a win would see them qualify for the last eight of this season’s European Champions Cup.
By Sam Sterrett
Tomorrow, the champions of English rugby travel to Glasgow for their final Pool 3 assignment of the season. Rob Baxter's men pulled themselves back into contention after an emphatic 41-10 victory against French giants Montpellier last week.
Baxter is aware of the challenge that awaits his side and has warned them to prepare for a fierce battle. Speaking to the clubs website, Baxter said:
“The important thing is we have got to the last round of games with something to play for and something tangible to fight for. That has rarely happened for us in the Champions Cup over the years. The last time it happened we went through in some quote remarkable circumstances, but the most important part of that was that we got a very important win here at home to the Ospreys and that let other things fall into place.
“We have to attack this weekend in a very similar manner, almost not worry too much about things that are happening anywhere else and don’t let things get too far out of our own hands, but go and put in a performance in that we can be proud of, which was our big focus ahead of Montpellier last week. If we can do that, then often the other things take care of itself and we tend to perform well. Hopefully then we will get the result and the scores we need to go through.”
Exeter Chiefs prop Tomas Francis has been named in Wales' squad for the upcoming NatWest Six Nations Championships.
Exeter Chiefs forward Tomas Francis, who currently has 26 caps for Wales, has been included in a 39-man squad names by Welsh head coach Warren Gatland ahead of the upcoming NatWest Six Nations Championship.
The talented tight-head is one of seven players from the Aviva Premiership who will convene at the National Centre of Excellence on Monday.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: "We have selected a larger squad and it is an opportunity for us to work with a wider group and continue building for the next 18 months. It's important to have a group of players who are used to the environment, know what is expected and are familiar with things and that will really benefit us going forward.
"Last autumn was about exposing and developing players as part of the two-year countdown to the RWC, the next couple of months are about testing those players in tournament rugby - we know how important the Six Nations is."
Exmouth Coach Jon Hill on victory over Maidenhead
On a day when many former club legends graced the club on past Captains Day, it was somewhat fitting that current Captain Jack Fahy, and former captain Dave Bargent put in a massive Shift to see the Cockles to victory.
With 25 former Captains increasing the bar take (substantially!) and sharing leadership stories from as far back as the 1960's, the big decisions were being made out on the pitch, with 18 players putting in a shift that all could be extremely proud of. Today's victory was built on a foundation of team spirit and work ethic , putting to bed last weeks below par showing with a high tempo performance.
14-0 down inside the first ten minutes, and a number of teams may have crumbled, but it is safe to say that the guys rolled their sleeves up, worked hard, stayed positive and grew more and more dominant in the game. Maidenhead were lively and well organised and without doubt deserved their two points. They caused problems in the wider channels and took their opportunities well.
Debutant Nick Headley looked lively, and claimed his first try. Matt Ryan scored what could easily become try of the season for superb team interplay, and Jack Downie continues to roll back the years, and is fast becoming one of the first names on the team sheet with some accomplished performances of late. Sam Richardson carried hard all game and made big inroads into the Maidenhead defence, and the tactical kicking of Fly Half Tom Whelan was a key difference between the two teams.
Today was a great day for the club, with so many former players in attendance. The 2nd xv claimed a bonus point victory against Drybrook in the South West Pilot League, which also saw player coach Ali Hill successfully make a playing comeback after two years out through injury. The colts , having to forfeit home advantage in order to get their league game played, beat their Crediton counterparts 50-0 , which will have delighted Colonel Justice. The Nomads, unfortunately lost narrowly just down the road in the Exmouth Derby.
Exeter Chiefs 41 Montpellier 10
6 tries from Exeter Chiefs secured an emphatic win against Montpellier in the European Cup.
By Sam Sterrett
Following back to back defeats against Leinster, who are top of Pool 3, victory was imperative for Exeter if they wanted to progress into the next round of European Champions Cup.
After suffering an unexpected defeat against Newcastle Falcons last week, the Chiefs headed into this highly anticipated encounter seeking vengeance knowing only a win would continue their European journey
Within the opening 20 minutes, it was an even contest with nothing separating the two sides.
However, when Exeter started to insert a sustained amount of pressure on Montpellier’s line, they won a penalty in the corner just 5 meters out and elected to opt for the scrum. Trying to power their way over the line using the forwards, Exeter lost the ball. In a blink of an eye, Montpellier cleared their lines and nearly countered – Chiefs recovered well to turn the ball over and win the penalty.
With the Tomahawk chop resonating around Sandy Park, the hosts launched another attack. It all started with a terrific catch from Olly Woodburn who plugged the ball out of the air. Suddenly, Exeter started to exploit space in behind Montpellier’s defence and found themselves just 5 meters out once more. This time, Dave Ewers bundled over to score the first try of the game. Gareth Steenson successfully kicking the extras.
Just 5 minutes later, roars around Sandy Park suggested Chiefs scored another. The referee needed to request the TMO (television match official) for assistance. A Montpellier kick was charged down by Lachie Turner, but as he was running for the try line, his foot narrowly went out of play – no try awarded.
In the dying embers of the first half, Montpellier kicked a monstrous penalty deep inside Exeter’s 22. Pinged 2 meters out, The Aviva Premiership Champions produced a defensive master class to keep them out.
Half time Exeter Chiefs 7 Montpellier 0
Setting camp inside Montpellier’s 22, Exeter began the second half where they left off in the opening 40 minutes, on top. Their opening 5 minutes of Dominating possession and territory was short lived. Giving away another penalty at the breakdown, Montpellier kicked for goal and secured three points.
Chiefs couldn’t have responded any better, with the assistance of the TMO, Chiefs were awarded their second try of the game. England international Sam Simmonds touched down from close range, but credit was awarded to the backs for getting the pack there. Extras added directly in front of the posts through Steenson.
In rapid succession, winger Olly Woodburn scored a sublime third try. Showing great strength and composure, Woodburn acrobatically passed his man to touch down in the corner.
From an incredibly tight angle, Steenson was unsuccessful with the attempted conversion kick. However, Exeter found themselves with a 16-point lead. And things only got better, or so Exeter fans thought.
Chiefs were running riot. The Sandy Park crowd erupted as the Exeter pack bundled over Montpellier’s try line. But TMO couldn’t see any part of the ball touch the ground.
However, it didn’t matter, as 2 minutes later Olly Woodburn, surely a man of the match contender, touched down in the exact same position where he scored his first. With a man to beat, he ran straight through him to secure the bonus point try. This time, Steenson eagle eyed with the boot.
Exeter were well and truly in a league of their own. Nic White, who previously played for Montpellier, added his name to the list of try scorers for the hosts. Running from behind the pack, he dived over the line to add Exeter’s 5th.
Rob Baxter’s men showed no mercy. Following another forward rumble on Montpellier’s line, Don Armand added the finishing touch for the 6th try of the encounter – Exeter’s 5th in 20 minutes.
To the annoyance of Rob Baxter, Exeter’s defence was finally breached. The visitors scored a late consolation try taking them to double figures. The up and rising star Joe Simmonds got in on the act to kick the final penalty of the game for Exeter.
Full time: Exeter Chiefs 41 Montpellier 10
Attendance: 11, 427
Exmouth head coach Jon Hill reflects on Exmouth's defeat against bottom of the table Hornets.
"We are all bitterly disappointed with our display and we were lucky to take a point from the game. We struggled to gain the ascendency at the set piece and didn't gain any momentum in initial phases as a result. Our breakdown skills were poor and we made far too many errors coughing up possession at vital moments. Playing with 13 men for a crucial period in the second half didn't help matters either! All in all, a poor day at the office!
"Fair play to Hornets who were clearly up for the game and caused us issues. Steve Pape carried well, led the team well, and caused issues for us at maul time, where he found himself in a position to stop our maul using a wide array of borderline, but effective tactics. We were naive tactically and mentally and without doubt underestimated our opponents and paid the price for our complacency.
"It would have been a crime had we have won the game at the end, and some of our decision making from penalties made it very difficult for us to get into decent field position to close out the game. Choosing to tap and go twice from 50 and 35 metres out, when a line out 10 metres from their line would have been far more effective. A big wake up call indeed, and well done to Hornets who showed a work ethic in abundance , and one that we should aspire to achieve for the rest of the season."
Man of the match went to Richard Bright, who was a constant threat and a try scorer.
The 2nd xv gained two bonus points in a 36-35 defeat away at Clifton. Fly Half Richard Cadywould hitting the post with a touch line conversion with the last play of the game that would have won it. The bonus points see the 2nd xv move up to 5th in the South West Pilot League. The bonus point for the 1st xv keeps the Cockles stay in 6th , with three big games looming.
Exeter City 2 Stevenage 1
Two goals from Lloyd James and Pierce Sweeney secured three points for the Grecians at St James Park
By Sam Sterrett
Having played a full 120 minutes on Tuesday evening against Forest Green Rovers in the FA Cup, and progressing into the next round of the competition, the only concern for Exeter City leading into this game was fatigue. They welcomed 16th place Stevenage to St James Park in League 2.
Manager Paul Tisdale made three changes to the squad that played mid-week, Troy Archibald Henville, Ryan Harley and Hiram Boateng replaced Jordan Tillson, Dean Moxey and Danny Seaborne.
Within the first 5 minutes, a succession of crosses was whipped into the heart of Exeter’s box, Christy Pym had to be alert to clear the danger on two separate occasions. Despite the visitors setting camp deep inside City’s half, they never looked like scoring.
It was Exeter, however, who created the first clear cut chance of the game, and it came in the 10th minute. Running with the ball, Lloyd James was caught by a late tackle just over the half way line resulting in a free kick. Throwing men forward for the set piece, Boateng floated the ball into the box which kindly fell to the feet of Jayden Stockley. But his close-range effort was somehow denied by a superb reaction save from the goal keeper.
Just 10 minutes later, City had another attempted saved. Liam Mcalinden skilfully passed a few players to make space on the left-hand side, he drilled in a low ball to Pierce Sweeny whose attempt was tipped over the bar.
30 minutes into the first half, City injected a sustained amount of pressure, but couldn’t turn their dominance into a goal. Frustration started to build around the ground as more City chances went begging. Harley struck a sweet half volley on the edge of the box, but directed straight at the keeper. Soon after, a free kick, in the same position, was cleared down field.
Paul Tisdale’s men were nearly punished for not capitalising on their opportunities, on the break, Stevenage created a two on one situation with the City defenders. And just outside the box, a Stevenage forward unleashed a low drive, which beat a diving Christy Pym, but went narrowly wide of the post.
Nothing separated the teams at half time. Exeter 0 Stevenage 0
St James Park could sense a goal. It was coming. And it did. Eventually, the Grecians found the back of the net – 5 minutes into the second half. Lloyd James showed good strength as he surged forwards through the heart of the Stevenage defence. With his right foot, his clinical finish found the bottom left corner. Not only did it give City the lead, it also woke up a quiet St James Park, down came the rain, up came the noise.
(71) Goal. In Stevenage’s half, Jake Taylor was caught by a high boot, deemed as a dangerous foul by the referee, the Stevenage player was penalised with a yellow card. The ball was crossed deep to the back post and found Mcalinden. His effort was pushed away by the goal keeper, but the rebound fell to the feet of Sweeney who smashed the ball home for City’s second.
Now two goals up, Tisdale replaced Mcalinden with Lee Holmes.
Suddenly, out of nothing, the visitors reduced the deficit. Following a corner, Matt Godden volleyed the ball past Pym in a rather congested City box. Pym obviously wasn’t happy, he kicked the ball into the stands out of pure frustration, in doing so, received a yellow.
Now it was City’s turn to defend. In the dying embers of the game, Pym produced a wonder save to deny the equaliser. He tipped a sublime effort onto the bar. Soon after, several crosses and corners were loaded into Exeter’s box. Along with several blocked shots. City survived the scare – and the Grecians nearly scored a third in extra time. On the counter attack, Matt Jay headed the ball onto the bar.
Exeter Chiefs fell agonisingly short in their European Cup thriller against Irish side Leinster
By Sam Sterrett
Under the floodlights at Sandy Park, in strong windy conditions, three time European Champions Leinster held off Exeter Chiefs to top pool 3.
Before kick-off, this highly anticipated game was posed for a good encounter. The Chiefs flying high, pumped full of confidence after an emphatic win over west county rivals Bath last week, were looking for their tenth successive victory.
However, Leinster have been just as good. The Irish side grabbed two bonus point wins against Montpellier and Glasgow in Pool 3 to set up a fascinating first leg match against Rob Baxter’s Men.
The last time these two teams met in the same competition was 2012, Leinster were overwhelmingly favourites and came out on top. However, Exeter have come a long way since, with the Aviva Premiership trophy under their belt and a revamped squad, the West country team posed a real threat. Not just to Leinster, but all teams in Europe.
The Chiefs made just two changes from the side that beat Bath, England international Henry Slade and Jonny Hill replaced Sam Hill and Sam Skinner.
Straight from kick off, Lenister stamped their authority in the game putting the Chiefs under mounted pressure. And within just 5 minutes, Leinster touched down in the corner. But eyes around Sandy Park were firmly glued to the big screen as the match referee requested the TMO (television match official). After two minutes of angst, no try was awarded. James Short making the try saving tackle.
The ever-reliable Jonny Sexton had the chance to put Leinster in front with a penalty kick just beyond half way, but the swirling wind around Sandy Park denied his attempt. With the weather conditions effecting kicking dramatically, Leinster continued to assault the Chiefs line through the forwards. And the visitors thought they crossed for the second time – TMO was needed once again. No try.
It was inevitable, the try was coming. And it did. As the rain started to fall, Leinster raised their game even further. And finally, the Chiefs defence was breached. A cross field kick found the arms of Jonny Sexton who scored the first try of the game. The Conversion attempt was held up in the wind and fell short.
Exeter responded well, despite being second best, they were awarded a penalty with Gareth Steenson supplying the goods. To the annoyance of the home spectators, Exeter suffered another setback with Leinster kicking a penalty of their own.
The Champions of English rugby eventually found their rhythm. The Tomahawk Chop resonated around Sandy Park as Exeter attacked Leister’s line just 5 meters out. Big hits flying in left, right and centre as the Chiefs tried to power their way through, it ended in a collapsed maul coming to nothing. With 40 minutes played, James Short made a surging run forward but failed to go all the way. Exeter trailed at the break.
Half time: Exeter 3 Leinster 8
In a blink of an eye, momentum changed rapidly. Straight out of the blocks, Exeter attacked down the right flank in numbers. Jack Nowell was just two steps away from crossing the line but taken down by the neck in his tracks. Chants around the ground suggested the home fans wanted a penalty try or red card as replays were shown around the stadium. However, the referee only produced the yellow.
With the man advantage, Rob Baxter’s men took full advantage. Fantastic link up play between Olly Woodburn and James Short created a 2 on 1 situation, releasing at just the right time, Woodburn passed the ball to Short who scored in the corner. Not for the first time, the windy conditions around Sandy Park prevented Steenson securing maximum points. 8-8.
Showing good composure, Sexton put Leinster ahead with a penalty kick to give his side a narrow lead. That was followed by another try for the visitors. Adding salt to the wound, Sexton added the extras. With less than ten minute to play, Exeter trailed by 10 and showed no sign of a comeback.
A disappointing result for the Chiefs. Full time: Exeter 8 Leinster 18.
The return match is in Dublin next weekend, in which Leinster will undoubtedly start as favourites.