English Premiership: Dominant Chiefs restart season with bonus point victory against battling Tigers

Exeter Chiefs 26(12)

Leicester Tigers 13(6)

Exeter Chiefs began the restart with a controlled victory against a competitive Leicester at an empty Sandy Park.

In a match where both sides had plenty of chances, the hosts got the job done against a fighting Tigers side on Jonny Gray’s debut for the hosts.

The second rower put in a 67 minute shift and played a key role at the breakdown for the Chiefs.

Fellow Scot Stuart Hogg’s score was complimented by tries from Charlie Ewers and Lucan Cowan-Dickie as Rob Baxter’s side got the perfect start to the restart.

Both sides also traded penalty tries in a manic five minute period near the hour mark, before a scoreless last quarter.

Exeter get the job done

The visitors had taken a well deserved 6-0 lead 0n 17 minutes, as they attempted to bring the game to last year’s Premiership champions.

George Ford was impressive throughout and followed a penalty kick with a neat drop goal after his side was unable to find a hole in a well organised Chiefs defence.

The ever present Ewers replied on 26 minutes though, the Exeter flanker finishing from close range after Cowan-Dickie was halted just short of the line.

Joe Simmonds missed the tough conversion, but the hosts took the lead on the stroke of half-time when Hogg did well to complete a smooth running move.

Simmonds supplied a perfect ball for his classy back line, the ball finding a speedy Olly Woodburn who then shipped it to the Scottish flyer to finish in the corner.

And this time Simmonds found the posts from an equally tough angle, giving his side a 12-6 lead at the break.

The Chiefs then had the perfect start to the second-half when Cowan-Dickie crashed over, the hooker catching Tigers’ defence off guard with a tap and go.

Simmonds’ conversion provided his side with a 13 point lead and Leicester’s misery looked to have been compounded when the hosts extended their lead with a penalty try.

Tigers flanker, Jordan Taufua was sent to the bin with his team unable to legally prevent an Exeter maul from crashing over the line on 53 minutes.

However, the visitors were quick to reply with their own penalty try under similar circumstances, both sides using the lineout as an effective platform throughout this game.

Jonny Hill’s yellow card also meant both sides were down to 14 men.

Tigers were unable to find the Exeter line again though and the hosts held their 13 point lead until the final whistle.

Sandy Park was always going to be a tough first assignment for Steve Borthwick as head coach of a team currently languishing in ninth, only above a Saracens side relegated by default.

Leicester did show plenty of promise, despite a high penalty count proving to be detrimental while there is a case for keeping the ball in hand more, despite the combined kicking experience of Ford and Ben Youngs.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs international contingent were impressive as always, Henry Slade likely impressing the attending Eddie Jones after missing out on the Six Nations through injury.

Exeter: Hogg, O’Flaherty, Slade, Devoto, Woodburn, Simmonds, Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Gray, Hill, Ewers, Kirsten, Simmonds

Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Francis, Skinner, Armand, Hidalgo-Clyne, Steenson, Whitten

Sin Bin: Jonny Hill

Leicester: Warth, Williams, Toute, Scott, Olowofela, Ford, Youngs; Genge, Youngs(c), Cole, Lavanini, Green, Wells, Reffell, Taufua

Replacements: Kerr, Leatigaga, Heyes, Liedenberg, Wallace, Smith, White, Henry

Sin Bin: Jordan Taufua

Caledonia One: Aberdeen Wanderers 29-5 Blairgowrie

Aberdeen Wanderers 29 (15)

Blairgowrie 5(0)

Aberdeen Wanderers brushed past Blairgowrie as blustery conditions and a heavy Groats Road pitch made the going tough for both sides. 

The hosts’ stand-off, Ed Vickers, scored 14  points, adding a fine try to three conversions and a penalty.

Ewan Smith, Mitchell Scott and Carwyn Walker also crossed the whitewash as Wanderers continued their good recent form with a bonus point win.

Blairgowrie responded through centre, Matthew Mitchie late on, but offered little attacking threat despite frustrating their opposition with some strong defence.

Wanderers make a winning return after a month on the sidelines


This was Wanderers first game since the 27th January due to weather related cancellations, but the Hazelhead outfit started brightly and Ed Vickers converted an easy penalty to give his side an early lead.

This was followed up by a Ewan Smith try on five minutes as the left-winger finished off a simple move from a strong Wanderers scrum.

Indeed, the hosts’ scrummage reigned dominant throughout the 80 minutes in a game where the set piece became crucial as the ball began to resemble a bar of soap in the Hazelhead mud.

Some fine interplay between Vickers and Mitchell Scott then sent the inside centre on his way as Wands looked to be on their way to a convincing victory.

From there it became rather quiet though as the home side struggled to break down Blairgowrie’s defence with a chance going a begging on 33 minutes when Vickers missed touch with his penalty as the wind swirled around Groats Road.

It wasn’t until the hour mark that the dead lock was broken after a multitude of scrums and chances missed through handling errors which were forgivable in the tough conditions.

Carwyn Walker and Gabe Liddle both put in impressive shifts in the back row and it was Walker who grabbed Wanderers third after another solid scrum.

The hosts’ bonus point looked imminent, but Blairs defence held solid until the 69th minute when Vickers added his side’s all important fourth try with a fine piece for running rugby before adding his third conversion.

In the dying moments of the game Blairgowrie were awarded for their efforts in defence with a try at the other end.

Matthew Mitchie found a way through after some sustained pressure in opposition territory to give his side something to travel home with.

Meanwhile, for Wanderers this win puts them in contention for third place and they travel to Ellon – who currently occupy that position – next weekend.

Aberdeen Wanderers Director of Rugby, Russell Arthur: “We had real problems finding players to play in the back line and made it more difficult for ourselves as we found it difficult to get the ball out wide. Full credit should go to a strong Blairgowrie defence who we often found hard to break down. I was really impressed by David Knights who has made the step up from playing in the back row for the Under 18s to starting on the wing today.”+