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Vermeulen's double keeps Exeter Chiefs' play-off hopes alive

SUNDAY WRAP: Exeter Chiefs kept alive their Premiership play-off hopes by brushing aside West Country rivals Gloucester 38-17 at Kingsholm.

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The Chiefs still have it all to do, lying four points adrift of the top four with only two regular-season games left.

But they remained in the mix ahead of remaining fixtures against Harlequins and Leicester through a bonus-point victory orchestrated by England centre Henry Slade.

Slade’s creative midfield presence caused Gloucester problems all afternoon, while he also kicked a penalty and converted all five of Exeter’s tries from flank Jacques Vermeulen (two), fullback Dan John and wings Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Olly Woodburn.

Ninth-placed Gloucester undoubtedly had an eye on next weekend’s European Challenge Cup semifinal appointment with Benetton, and they never seriously threatened Exeter despite tries by wing Jonny May, flank Jack Clement and lock Arthur Clark, while flyhalf Charlie Atkinson added one conversion.

Exeter made the early running and almost went ahead when scrum-half Tom Cairns charged down a kick from his opposite number Stephen Varney, but although Gloucester escaped on that occasion, they fell behind to a 40-metre Slade penalty.

Gloucester then went close through centre Max Llewellyn, but Exeter were quickly back on the front foot and extended their lead after 14 minutes.

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The home side managed to halt a driven lineout, but Exeter stayed patient and Vermeulen went over from close range with Slade adding the conversion.

Exeter continued moving impressively through the gears, and a second try arrived just four minutes later after Joe Hawkins sent his midfield partner Slade through a huge gap, with John providing the finish.

Slade’s conversion made it 17-0, leaving Gloucester in all kinds of strife until May provided a glimmer of hope for them when he scored a try 11 minutes before the interval.

But Exeter soon reasserted themselves on the contest, cutting open Gloucester’s defence courtesy of Slade’s break, and Woodburn applied the finish.

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Slade converted from the touchline, yet Gloucester had the first-half’s final say when Clement crossed unopposed, reducing Exeter’s lead to 24-10.

Gloucester began the second period brightly through strong attacking work from May and Llewellyn, only to see Exeter regain territorial control and Harvey Skinner’s long pass send an unmarked Feyi-Waboso over to score.

Slade’s immaculate form with the boot continued via a touchline conversion, but after Clark charged down a Cairns clearance to score and Atkinson converted, Gloucester threatened an unlikely fightback.

Centre Chris Harris broke clear in midfield and found Varney in support, and it took an outstanding cover tackle from Skinner to deny the Italy international.

It was a warning to the Chiefs, but once again they responded and Vermeulen’s second try, converted by Slade, put considerable daylight between the teams.

Gloucester pushed for their fourth try and a losing bonus point during the closing stages, but Exeter comfortably kept them out as they made it an emphatic case of job done.

*Sale Sharks also strengthened their Premiership play-off ambitions with a 35-14 victory over winless Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

Tries from Ben Curry and Joe Carpenter put the visitors in command in the first half, before Guy Pepper reduced the deficit to a converted try.

A Tim Cardall score levelled the game to give Newcastle fans hope of a rare win, but Luke Cowan-Dickie swiftly dotted down to restore the Sharks’ lead.

There was no way back this time for the north east side, who were denied a losing bonus point after tries from Tom Roebuck and Rob du Preez in the final 10 minutes.

All Sunday’s scores and scorers!

Newcastle Falcons 14-35 Sale Sharks

The scorers:

For Newcastle Falcons:
Tries: Pepper, Cardall
Cons: Connon 2

For Sale Sharks:
Tries: B Curry, Carpenter, Cowan-Dickie, Roebuck, R Du Preez
Cons: Ford 5

Teams:

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Ben Redshaw, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart, 8 Callum Chick (captain), 7 Guy Pepper, 6 Sam Cross, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Philip van der Walt, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Mark Dormer, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Freddie Lockwood, 21 James Elliott, 22 Oli Spencer, 23 Tom Penny.

Sale Sharks: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Arron Reed, 13 Rob du Preez, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Arron Reed, 10 George Ford, 9 Raffi Quirke, 8 JL du Preez, 7 Sam Dugdale, 6 Ben Curry (captain), 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 James Harper, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Si McIntyre, 18 WillGriff John, 19 Ben Bamber, 20 Hyron Andrews, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Sam James, 23 Tom O’Flaherty

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Greg Macdonald
TMO: Dean Richards

Gloucester 17-38 Exeter Chiefs

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Tries: May, Clement, Clark
Con: Atkinson

For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Vermeulen 2, John, Woodburn, Feyi-Waboso
Cons: Slade 5
Pen: Slade

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jake Morris, 14 Jonny May, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Zach Mercer (captain), 7 Jack Clement, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Arthur Clark, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Seb Blake, 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson
Replacements: 16 Santi Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Freddie Thomas, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Caolan Englefield, 23 Louis Hillman-Cooper

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Dan John, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Tom Cairns, 8 Greg Fisilau, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Dafydd Jenkins (captain), 4 Jack Dunne, 3 Marcus Street, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Max Norey, 17 Danny Southworth, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Christ Tshiunza, 20 Ross Vintcent, 21 Niall Armstrong, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Zack Wimbush

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Tom Foley, Peter Allan
TMO: Stuart Terheege

 

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