Six Nations 2014: Chiefs’ star Luke Cowan-Dickie worth weight in sausages

 

Rugby Union Correspondent

They sponsor almost everything to within an inch of its life down Sandy Park way – even the sin-binnings carry a name check for one financial backer or another – but the marketing opportunities have yet to be fully exhausted.

The young Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie is currently “supported” by a local sausage producer (now there’s an eye-watering thought) but if his weekend performance against London Irish was a reliable indicator of the rugby he will play over the next few years, we can expect some slightly larger businesses to express an interest. Like Google, or Microsoft.

It would not be strictly accurate to laud the 20-year-old Cornishman as the stand-out performer in a comprehensive 18-0 victory: Tom Johnson, the multi-tasking back-rower, had an absolute belter, to the extent that he deserves a seat on the England bench for this weekend’s Six Nations humdinger with Wales at Twickenham. But it was Cowan-Dickie who made the most interesting statement.

The energy of his work in the loose, allied to an instinctive opportunism that turned 50-50 contests for possession on the floor into foregone conclusions, fully justified the faith expressed in him by Graham Rowntree, the England forwards coach.

“Are there still areas of his game that need work? Of course there are: he’s 20.” So said Rob Hunter, who performs the Rowntree role at the Devon club. “But he has a huge amount of potential. This was a must-win game for us, so to throw someone of Luke’s age into the side for a first Premiership start was a big step.” The soft smile of satisfaction on Hunter’s face suggested he was pleased the step had been taken.

Cowan-Dickie’s throwing at the lineout was not unerringly accurate: the further he attempted to propel the ball, the less likely he was to hit the right man – or, indeed, anyone at all. But he is hardly alone in struggling with his sense of direction from the touchline: ask Tom Youngs of Leicester, who played Test rugby for the British & Irish Lions in Australia last summer.

Where Cowan-Dickie scores in “point of difference” terms is in his combination of pace, broken-field footballing skill and implacability at the tackle area.

After a flat first half – so much for the notion that this might be a fascinating game of thrust and counter-thrust – it was Johnson who broke things open, returning London Irish clearance kicks with big rates of interest from the restart. Luke Arscott, the Exeter full-back, capitalised by probing a gap between James O’Connor, the quick-witted Wallaby back, and Leo Halavatau, a front-row forward significantly slower in all respects, and sending Phil Dollman over for the opening try. Johnson then made another telling contribution, plucking Shane Geraghty’s high kick out of the air to instigate a sweeping move that resulted in Ian Whitten’s try in the right corner.

It was a miserable day for the visitors , not least for the England wing Marland Yarde, who was making his first start after a long injury lay-off and was keen to catch the eye before returning to the red rose squad for the Wales build-up. The Harlequins-bound player sought involvement from first minute to last, but he was reduced to an advance state of exasperation long before the final quarter – hence the regular bouts of frustrated arm-waving, which may or may not have gone down well with his colleagues.

Still, the England coaches will be pleased to see him back. In a season or two, they will probably be every bit as pleased to see Cowan-Dickie.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
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

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?