Exeter Chiefs blast away Leicester Tigers at blustery Sandy Park as Henry Slade stars in front of Eddie Jones

Exeter Chiefs 30 Leicester Tigers 6: Premiership leaders secure bonus-point victory to restore 10-point gap to the chasing pack

Sunday 31 December 2017 18:32
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Henry Slade scored a breakaway interception try as Exeter Chiefs beat Leicester Tigers
Henry Slade scored a breakaway interception try as Exeter Chiefs beat Leicester Tigers

Exeter extended their lead at the top of the Aviva Premiership to 10 points with a bonus-point victory over Leicester at Sandy Park.

The home side were nowhere near their best but had more than enough to condemn an ordinary Leicester to their sixth consecutive defeat.

That run of losses is the Tigers' worst since 1965 and leaves them in ninth place in the table and virtually certain to be out of Europe next season.

Dom Armand, Henry Slade, Jack Yeandle and Jonny Hill scored Exeter's tries with Gareth Steenson converting two and kicking a penalty. Slade also added a penalty.

Two penalties from George Ford provided Leicester's insubstantial response.

Leicester made a late change to their starting line-up as Mathew Tait's back problem saw him drop to the bench with Nick Malouf coming in on the wing and Jonny May switching to full-back.

Slade's interception try took the game away from Leicester

The visitors then began badly as Luke Hamilton dropped the kick-off to concede early territory to the hosts. Steenson, making his 150th Premiership appearance, declined to take two kickable penalties in favour of attacking line-outs but it proved to be the wrong option as Chiefs bungled both opportunities.

After seven minutes, Exeter suffered an injury blow when hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie hobbled off but they overcame the setback to dominate an error-ridden scoreless first quarter.

Ball retention was poor as both sides made frequent handling errors, with possession being regularly given way with fruitless kicking.

After 24 minutes, Exeter changed their tactics to take the lead when Slade fired over a 50-metre penalty before Chiefs full-back Lachie Turner attempted to raise the standard with a couple of lively bursts to at least provide some entertainment for the sell-out crowd.

Jonny Hill scores Exeter's third try against Leicester

The game continued to meander before Ford and Steenson exchanged penalties to leave Exeter 6-3 ahead at the interval.

Leicester would have been the happier at that stage as their opponents had the advantage of a stiff breeze in the first half but had failed to capitalise on their territory and possession.

Within two minutes of the restart, Leicester drew level with a second Ford penalty before the hosts at last put some continuity into their play.

A flowing 45-metre movement ended with Armand forcing his way over from close range.

The Leicester forwards appear dejected at the full-time whistle

Exeter brought on Nic White, Sam Simmonds and Tomas Francis to provide fresh impetus and with 16 minutes remaining, the hosts effectively guaranteed victory with their second try.

A box kick from White was held up in the wind which left May in two minds. First he allowed the ball to bounce before tapping the ball back straight into the path of Slade, who raced 45 metres to score.

Leicester never looked like clawing back the advantage and they conceded further tries to Hill and Yeandle in the last 10 minutes.

Teams

Exeter: Turner, Nowell, Slade, S. Hill, Woodburn, Steenson, Chudley, Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Skinner, J. Hill, Ewers, Armand, Waldrom.

Replacements: Yeandle, Rimmer, Francis, Lees, S. Simmonds, White, Whitten, Short.

Leicester: Tait, Thompstone, Tuilagi, Toomua, May, G. Ford, B. Youngs, Mulipola, Polota-Nau, Cole, M. Fitzgerald, Kitchener, Williams, Hamilton, Kalamafoni.

Replacements: T. Youngs, Traynor, Baumann, Wells, Mapapalangi, Harrison, J. Ford, Malouf.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU)

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