Hepher backs Slade to seize Eng­land slot

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Aviva Premiership - By St­ef­fan Thomas at Sixways

Henry Slade staked his claim for an Eng­land cen­tre berth as he played a star­ring role in Ex­eter’s bonus­point thrash­ing of Worces­ter.

Slade – who is seen by na­tional coach Ed­die Jones as a can­di­date for the No 13 shirt – ripped the War­riors to shreds with his vi­sion, han­dling and kick­ing game.

The Chiefs scored five tries, with Sam Sim­monds get­ting two and Jack Now­ell, Jonny Hill and Olly Wood­burn one each, but it was Slade who was the stand­out.

“I think he’s ca­pa­ble of it,” said Ex­eter head coach Ali Hepher when asked if Slade was ready to start for Eng­land in Novem­ber. “I think all he’s con­cen­trat­ing on is play­ing well each week. But the im­pres­sive thing with Sladey is that he never gives up the fight. His de­fen­sive work is sec­ond to none.

“He’s got his nice touches around the park so as an all-round pack­age, he’s com­ing on well. Eng­land are look­ing at him in mid­field and he’s show­ing a good hand in that area.”

Cham­pi­ons Ex­eter were the game’s dom­i­nant force and fly-half Gareth Steen­son ended the night with five con­ver­sions and two penal­ties. Now­ell’s try was the pick of the visi­tors’ ef­forts, with the Eng­land and Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions wing cross­ing in the right-hand cor­ner af­ter an elec­tric break from scrum-half Nic White.

Hill’s score gave Ex­eter a com­fort­able 24-3 lead, but to their credit Worces­ter re­fused to throw in the towel. The Pre­mier­ship’s heav­i­est player, tight­head prop Biyi Alo, pow­ered over from short range at the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond half, but it proved just a con­so­la­tion.

War­riors head coach Gary Gold said: “It’s very dif­fi­cult to swal­low that re­sult, but that’s what hap­pens when you make mis­takes against the cham­pi­ons – they make you pay. It was a spir­ited ef­fort. Credit to the guys for their char­ac­ter, but we will carry on as there’s a long way to go.” Africa scrum-half, who is quickly mak­ing his pres­ence felt in the Pre­mier­ship.

Sale led 24-0 at half-time with prop Ross Harrison also touch­ing down for his first try in his 109th ap­pear­ance for the north-west club.

Ir­ish, who have now lost suc­ces­sive games, did bet­ter in the sec­ond half and grabbed a penalty try just be­fore Cowan was sent off by ref­eree Wayne Barnes when he dropped a shoul­der on an op­po­nent at a ruck. That of­fence fol­lowed a first yel­low card in the 54th minute.

Nick Kennedy, Ir­ish’s di­rec­tor of rugby, had no com­plaints about the de­ci­sion to send off Cowan and added: “We missed too many tack­les in the first half and made a slow start for a sec­ond match run­ning.”

Sale fin­ished off through tries by wing Josh Charn­ley and the man of the match, cen­tre Mark Jen­nings. Fly-half AJ Macginty also kicked 11 points.

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