Wasps' indiscipline lets confident Chiefs go on the warpath

 

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The Independent Online

Exeter Chiefs' excellent start to the season continued yesterday with a 21-11 home win over Wasps. The Chiefs, who now sit third in the Premiership table with three wins in their four games, came from 6-5 down at the interval to run out comfortable winners at Sandy Park.

Exeter took advantage of Wasps' indiscipline when Tom Johnson crossed for the only try of the first half after the Londoners' Richard Birkett was sent to the sin-bin. Two Ryan Davis penalties saw Wasps turn round ahead but they continued to give away needless penalties after the break as Gareth Steenson and Ignacio Mieres kicked the Chiefs into a 14-6 lead.

The Devon club killed the contest 16 minutes from time when prop Chris Budgen was bundled over, though Jack Wallace scored a consolation try for Wasps late on.

The Leicester coach, Richard Cockerill, has refused to blame his side's poor start to the season on his World Cup absentees despite their heaviest ever Premiership home defeat to Saracens, who romped to a 50-25 win at Welford Road on Saturday.

"It's clearly not our best side but I can't manage that," said Cockerill. "You can talk about all the blokes that are missing, but we didn't play well and got beat fair and square."

Saturday's defeat – in a rematch of the Premiership final in May, which Saracens won 22-18 – means that Leicester have now lost all four of their games this season with a total of 12 first-team players called up by ex-Tiger Martin Johnson to the World Cup, including the New-Zealand-born No 8 Thomas Waldrom, who yesterday officially became part of the England squad.

Likewise, Saracens have eight World Cup men missing from their own camp but it was one of the players who did not survive the cut from the 45-man England training squad, Charlie Hodgson, who made the big impression, scoring 20 points, including one of six tries for the visitors.

"I think our fundamentals were really strong today," said the Saracens coach Mark McCall. "We were outstanding once we got some momentum in attack."

Richard Hill tore into his Worcester players for being "soft" after they threw away a 12-point lead to lose 15-17 at home to Harlequins. "At 15-3 down they [Quins] had no right to dig themselves out of that, but we made some poor decisions at bad times. We need to have a serious think about who's making those errors," said Hill.

Despite leading with only seven minutes remaining, Worcester had back-row Jake Abbott sent to the sin-bin for continued infringement and from the resulting scrum Harlequins forced a penalty try to complete a stirring comeback and maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.

Hill's misery was complete when he announced that his captain, Kai Horstmann, "will be out for four to six weeks" after pulling a hamstring.

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