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Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership
Match Date: Sat 01 Mar 2014
Kick Off: 15:00
Venue: Sandy Park Stadium
Referee: Matthew Carley
TV Match Official: Geoff Warren
Assistant Referee: Roger Baileff
Assistant Referee: Ashley Rowden
It was perhaps a game too far for Brian Smith’s small squad as tries to Exeter centres Phil Dollman and Ian Whitten saw Irish taste defeat.
London Irish were forced into a late change before kick-off. Jamie Hagan, who suffered a rib injury in last weekend’s Aviva Premiership match against Leicester Tigers, failed a late fitness test and was replaced in the starting line-up by Leo Halavatau.
The reliable Tongan was an able replacement and was a thorn in the host’s side after making a couple of nice line breaks to put Irish in good positions. Darren Allinson came close but was turned over after lacking support.
Exeter registered the first points of the game on 12 minutes with a straight forward penalty goal by fly half Henry Slade. George Skivington was penalised for playing the scrum half with Exeter in a good position.
The Chiefs edged further clear when Leo Halavatau was penalised and sent to the sin bin for a cynical infringement with Exeter knocking on the door of the Irish line. Slade added the three points to stretch his side 6-0 ahead after 21 minutes.
Irish hit the post with a James O’Connor penalty and had chances to cross for tries but a mixture of good home defence and lack of composure at vital times cost Brian Smith’s side. Shane Geraghty came close to scoring an opportunistic try after charging down a Tom Arscott kick but the ball ran dead.
The hosts led 6-0 at the break.
Rob Baxter’s team came flying out of the blocks in the second half and Irish could not live with their intensity. Topsy Ojo cleared the ball but failed to find touch and it was gathered by Dave Ewers who carried the ball back. The ball was recycled and passed down into the hands of Tom Arscott who made a half break before offloading to Phil Dollman who dived over. Henry Slade added the extras to extend Exeter’s lead to 13-0.
The Exiles had chances, especially when Ben White was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Darren Allinson. However Irish failed to make the extra man count. David Paice made a great break but his pass to Gerard Ellis allowed the cover defence to come across and overt danger.
Exeter had the ascendency and a vocal Sandy Park crowd behind them. Tom Arscott collected a Shane Geraghty kick and Ian Whitten sprinted across in the corner to put the result beyond doubt.
The Chiefs dominated the last 10 minutes but failed to register any points and Irish remained scoreless for the first time this season.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 0-3, 0-6, 0-13, 0-18,
Scorers: Exeter Chiefs: Penalties: Slade (12, 21); Tries: Dollman (42) Whitten (67); Conversions: Slade
15. Luke Arscott; 14. Matt Jess; 13. Ian Whitten; 12. Phil; Dollman; 11. Tom James (rep: Fetu’u Vainikolo, 27-28, 78); 10. Henry Slade (rep: Gareth Steenson, 78); 9. Dave Lewis (rep: Haydn Thomas, 67); 1. Ben Moon (rep:Carl Rimmer, 71); 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie; 3. Hoani Tui (rep: Alex Brown, 65); 4. Dean Mumm (Captain); 5. Damian Welch (rep: Don Armand, 32-34, 67); 6. Tom Johnson (rep: Kai Horstmann, 71); 7. Ben White; 8. Dave Ewers
Replacements: 16. Greg Bateman; 17. Carl Rimmer; 18. Alex Brown; 19. Don Armand; 20. Kai Horstmann; 21. Haydn Thomas; 22. Gareth Steenson; 23. Fetu’u Vainikolo
15. Topsy Ojo; 14. Alex Lewington; 13. Eamonn Sheridan; 12. James O’Connor; 11. Marland Yarde; 10. Shane Geraghty; 9. Darren Allinson; 1. John Yapp (rep: Matt Parr, 52); 2. David Paice; 3. Leo Halavatau (rep: John Yapp, 65); 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Nic Rouse (rep: Ian Gough, 61); 6. Kieran Low (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 52); 7. Blair Cowan (rep: Mike Mayhew, 75); Ofisa Treviranus (rep: Matt Parr, 24-31, rep: Gerard Ellis, 58)
Replacements: 16. Mike Mayhew; 17. Matt Parr; 18. Jonny Harris; 19. Jebb Sinclair; 20. Ian Gough; 21. Gerard Ellis; 22. Ian Humphreys; 23. Ed Hoadley
Referee: Matt Carley