Cowan-Dickie scores late try to give Exeter first win in France
The Exeter Chiefs head coach, Rob Baxter, admitted to “mixed emotions” after his side won a Champions Cup match in France for the first time to keep alive their slim hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
It was Exeter’s first victory in Europe this season and avenged their 13-7 A last-minute penalty has decided a crunch European Cup tie involving Munster at Welford Road before – but that time the Irish province triumphed as Ronan O’Gara’s effort (right) sealed a thrilling 21-19 victory over Leicester in October 2006. defeat by the French side at Sandy Park last weekend, but it was not a totally convincing display in a feisty game.
Bordeaux played for 31 minutes with only 14 players after a red card for winger Nans Ducuing for upending Exeter winger Olly Woodburn in a tackle close to halfway.
Irish referee John Lacey was spot on with his decision, as Woodburn landed on his neck/head area, but it angered the home crowd, whose side led 9-7 at the time of the incident.
Exeter had their own discipline problems, with a yellow card in each half for Mitch Lees and Greg Holmes, but England’s Henry Slade, playing at fly-half in the absence of the rested Gareth Steenson, kept cool in the red-hot atmosphere with 10 points from his boot.
Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie also showed England coach Eddie Jones that he is ready to step up to replace the suspended Dylan Hartley if needed with a battling performance on his return from a two-month injury lay-off, crowning his display with a crucial try 10 minutes from time.
“It is a nice little step forward for us, to win away in France in a top-flight competition for the first time, and Bordeaux have got a fantastic record at home, so in that regard we have done very well,” said Baxter.
“I am a little frustrated though because we could have been a bit better. We put a lot of ball on the floor, lost a fair bit of ball in contact and got a little bit ill-disciplined when we should have taken charge after the red card.
“I said to the players before the game: cherish the 80 minutes, take the opportunity to build a memory, and when you look at some of the fighting spirit we showed, that is what is really pleasing and money can’t buy as a coach.”
Baxter was happy with the contributions of Slade and Cowan-Dickie, and said: “It is great credit to Luke to how hard he has worked and the conditioners and the physios, and the pleasing thing is he’ll get better week by week.
“Henry kicked very well. I think some of his passing got a bit wayward at times, but a bit like the team as a whole, the important qualities were there, and that’s what is most pleasing.” It was Slade who kicked a late penalty to deny the hosts even a losing bonus point and dent their own hopes of reaching the last eight.
Sleight of hand: Henry Slade shows fine technique to offload out of a tackle