Ram­pant Glouces­ter leave Ex­eter’s hopes in tat­ters

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Champions Cup - By Nigel Wal­rond at Sandy Park

Ex­eter direc­tor of rugby Rob Bax­ter ad­mit­ted his side had been “out­played” by Glouces­ter as the Chiefs’ hopes of Euro­pean glory were all but ended for an­other sea­son.

The Chiefs went into this year’s Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup tipped in some quar­ters to win the com­pe­ti­tion, but af­ter a fail­ure to tri­umph in any of their open­ing three pool games, their hopes lie in tat­ters.

Glouces­ter, on the other hand, are very well placed to make a real as­sault on a quar­ter-fi­nal place, if they can beat the Chiefs when they meet again at King­sholm on Fri­day night.

“Credit to Glouces­ter, ev­ery­one knows Sandy Park is a dif­fi­cult place to come and play, and the con­di­tions were dif­fi­cult, but in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively, they out­played us,” said Bax­ter.

“There were so many mo­ments as coaches where we were ask­ing: ‘What are we try­ing to achieve there?’ and the big ques­tion is whether, as a play­ing group, we can’t get our head around the Heineken Cup quite yet.

“We win things be­cause we are a bit of a machine, and the cogs tend to run pretty smoothly, but it cer­tainly didn’t feel like that for much of the game – our set-piece didn’t re­ally func­tion.”

Glouces­ter have a great record at Sandy Park, hav­ing now won three times and drawn once at the venue in the past five years, but it was still quite a turn­around from a fort­night ago when they lost 23-6 here in the Premier­ship.

De­lighted head coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann said: “Our pa­tience was much bet­ter than two weeks ago, and to­day a few things went our way.

“We matched Ex­eter in the ter­ri­tory bat­tle, which nor­mally they win, and that was cru­cial for us. For the ma­jor­ity of the game our set-piece was good.”

The open­ing quar­ter was lit up by two tries of real qual­ity.

Ex­eter struck first af­ter a great tackle by Eng­land cen­tre Henry Slade in­side his own 22 and a fine counter-ruck. The ball was moved swiftly to the right, where Ol­lie Devoto and San­ti­ago Cordero took play deep into Glouces­ter ter­ri­tory, be­fore more good hands put Don Ar­mand over for a try.

Eight min­utes later, though, tal­ented 22-year-old Glouces­ter winger Ol­lie Thor­ley gath­ered Matt Kvesic’s need­less grub­ber kick and eluded two de­fend­ers on a siz­zling run into the Ex­eter half. He was halted just short of the line by a su­perb tackle from Alex Cuth­bert, but popped the ball up for im­pres­sive scrum-half and cap­tain Willi Heinz to cross, with Danny Cipri­ani con­vert­ing.

The rest of the half was dom­i­nated by mon­soon-like con­di­tions that made throw­ing in at line-outs and box-kick­ing al­most im­pos­si­ble, pro­duc­ing a plethora of er­rors from both sides.

Glouces­ter came close to get­ting a try just past the half-hour mark, but Ex­eter lock Mitch Lees some­how man­aged to bur­gle pos­ses­sion from a close-range maul. They did, how­ever, add to their tally right on the stroke of half-time with a Cipri­ani scrum penalty to give them a 10-5 in­ter­val lead.

Ex­eter made the per­fect start to the sec­ond half with a try af­ter only 70 sec­onds from Aus­tralian scrum-half Nic White, Gareth Steen­son con­vert­ing, but the Chiefs’ time in front was short-lived, with a Cipri­ani penalty restor­ing Glouces­ter’s ad­van­tage.

With Ex­eter’s line-out largely aw­ful, and er­rors con­tin­u­ing to present pos­ses­sion to Glouces­ter, the visitors put the match out of reach with two tries in eight min­utes by South Afri-

Win­ning feel­ing: Fred­die Clarke (left) and Fraser Bal­main cel­e­brate Jaco Vis­agie’s try for Glouces­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.