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

PROMOTED VIDEO
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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital