Baxter's Chiefs cut loose and sail past Sharks

Exeter Chiefs 37 Sale Sharks 12

sandy park

Like some cross-grained West Country terrier, Exeter keep yapping at the heels of the Aviva Premiership leaders. Yesterday their bite was as big as their bark as they chewed off the biggest win of their Premiership existence with a performance based on the simple ingredients that have made them such a force over the last two seasons.

They did so despite losing two players to the sin-bin and against a Sale side who have been playing good rugby over the Six Nations period. But not until they were 30 points adrift did Sale produce anything like continuity and, though it brought two tries, they suffered the final indignity of conceding a penalty try under their own posts against 14 men.

Exeter felt they were given insufficient credit for November's win at Sale, when they turned around a 17-point half-time deficit, and that they had been unfairly criticised for scoring one try in three games.

"Some of that was the weather, today was dry and we freed the players up, told them not to be weighed down by the league," said Rob Baxter, the head coach.

Exeter took only their second try-scoring bonus point of the season, four of the five tries coming before Sale had a point. For almost the whole of the first half, the visitors were anonymous, the only curiosity the penalties they received at the scrum, where Exeter seemed in the ascendant.

Haydn Thomas and Ignacio Mieres, the Chiefs' half-backs, kept Sale guessing and allowed their outstanding flankers, Tom Johnson and James Scaysbrook, to fan out in constant support. But it was Richard Baxter, the No 8, whose break led to the first try, Jason Shoemark sending Phil Dollman over in the corner. Baxter scored the second try after Exeter kept Sale scoreless during their one period of first-half pressure.

Six minutes after the interval, Matt Jess came off the blind-side wing to put Nic Sestaret through and over the line.

Baxter was the first player to receive a yellow card, as Sale's phase play finally carried them to the line. Awarded a five-metre scrum, they offended – Bryan Rennie made a 70-metre break and, while still down to 14 men, Exeter worked Jess over the line.

Sale flickered into life. "We trained the best we have trained during the week and that's sometimes a signal to be careful," said Tony Hanks, their head coach.

Luther Burrell scored their first try and with the Exeter replacement flanker Ben White in the bin, Tony Buckley touched down a ball Exeter thought they had under control. Exeter would not be denied. Three times they went for a five-metre scrum, twice Sale were penalised. The third time the penalty try came. Before yesterday, Exeter had scored only 20 Premiership tries this season; after scoring five more, their economy is booming.

Exeter Chiefs P Dollman; G Camacho, B Rennie, J Shoemark (N Sestaret, 40), M Jess; I Mieres (G Steenson, 61), H Thomas (K Barrett, 50); H Tui (C Budgen, 74), C Whitehead (N Clark, 66), C Mitchell (B Moon, 55), T Hayes (capt), J Hanks (A Muldowney, 55), T Johnson (B White, 66), R Baxter, J Scaysbrook.

Sale Sharks R Miller; T Brady, J Leota (L Burrell, 57), S Tuitupou (capt), M Cueto (J Tuculet, 66); N Macleod, D Peel (C Willis, 57); A Sheridan (R Harrison, 61), M Jones (J Ward, 55), V Cobilas (A Buckley, 55), K Myall, J Gaskell, R Vernon (M Easter, 50), A Powell, D Seymour (W Lewaravu, 66).

Referee D Richards (London).

Exeter Chiefs

Tries: Dollman, Baxter, Sestaret, Jess, Penalty try

Cons: Mieres 2, Steenson

Pens: Mieres 2

Sale Sharks

Tries: Burrell, Buckley

Con: MacLeod

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen