Exeter dig deep to beat Sale
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Exeter Chiefs had to dig deep to see off a determined Sale Sharks side and clinch a 22-20 win at the AJ Bell Stadium in Champions Cup Pool Two on Sunday.
It was a great start for the hosts who got close to the try line before Exeter conceded the penalty in front of the posts, allowing Rob du Preez to nudge Sale ahead on 10 minutes.
Some superb play from Stuart Hogg helped Exeter go ahead for the first time four minutes later. He jinked between two Sale players, sprinted clear of Chris Ashton who made an excellent tackle to stop the try.
However, the tackle of Tom Curry wasn’t as good and gave Mathieu Raynal no choice but to award a penalty try.
Two minutes later, Hogg was able to again work the space and slotted a ball between two Sale players before collecting his own kick and scoring his first try for the English club.
In a thrilling opening 20 minutes, Akker van der Merwe got on the scoresheet next for the hosts after a top class charge down from Bryn Evans, allowing the former to score near the posts.
Luke Cowan-Dickie and Van der Merwe traded further tries before the half-hour mark to leave Exeter 22-13 ahead at the interval.
The only points of the second half came from Sale as they dominated proceedings, with Jono Ross finally powering over with five minutes to play but they couldn’t force another opportunity as Exeter clung on for a crucial away success.
The two sides will clash again next Sunday at Sandy Park.
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Van der Merwe 2, Ross
Con: Du Preez
Pen: Du Preez
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Penalty Try, Hogg, Cowan-Dickie
Con: J Simmonds
Pen: J Simmonds
Yellow cards: Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 13); Ben Moon (Exeter, 68)
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Tom Curry, 5 James Phillips, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Matthew Postlewhaite, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Luke James, 23 Denny Solomona.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Dave Dennis (captain), 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Don Armand, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Olly Woodburn.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Thomas Charabas (France), Sébastien Minery (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)