Exeter Chiefs held to 10-10 draw by Munster as Champions Cup campaign gets off to disappointing start

Exeter Chiefs 10-10 Munster: CJ Stander’s second-half try cancelled out Luke Cowan-Dickie’s first-half effort at a windswept Sandy Park

Saturday 13 October 2018 17:32
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Exeter may rue the home draw against Munster later in the season
Exeter may rue the home draw against Munster later in the season

Exeter’s European Champions Cup campaign got off to a disappointing start after they were held to a 10-10 draw in a titanic struggle at Sandy Park.

Exeter had only lost once in their last 17 games but came perilously close to losing this one as Munster had the lion’s share of possession and territory.

Luke Cowan-Dickie scored Exeter’s only try with Gareth Steenson adding a penalty and a conversion.

CJ Stander scored for Munster with Joey Carbery kicking a penalty and a conversion.

Keith Earls was a last minute withdrawal for Munster with Darren Sweetnam coming in on the left wing but they overcame this setback to have the better of the opening 10 minutes by dominating possession.

Chiefs conceded four penalties during that period and lost both a line-out and a scrum on their own throw but a knock-on from prop Stephen Archer lost Munster a good attacking position and 70 metres in territory when Steenson hoofed the ball downfield.

After 16 minutes, Exeter won their first penalty when Mike Haley was penalised for not releasing and Steenson put his side into the opposition 22 for the first time.

Luke Cowan-Dickie bundles his way over the line to score a try for Exeter

Two minutes later, he put his side in front from the penalty tee, which was the only score of the opening quarter.

Despite this reverse, Munster continued to provide an excellent example of how to play into a gale force wind. They kept the ball tight among their forwards to sap up the energy of the Chiefs and attempt to run down the first half clock.

They battered the hosts’ line for a five minute period and after a burst from Stander, Matt Kvesic was penalised for coming in at the side for Carbery to bring his side level.

However two minutes before the interval, Munster again fell behind when after the Irish conceded two scrum penalties, Cowan-Dickie forced his way over from close range for Steenson to convert and Chiefs held a 10-3 interval lead.

CJ Stander scores Munster's only try of the match

Two minutes after the restart, Exeter lost Dave Dennis with an injury before Munster, who were under considerable pressure in the set scrum, changed both their props.

The visitors looked to have benefited from the replacements when they drove over from a line-out but the referee controversially ruled out Chris Cloete’s try for a maul obstruction.

The visitors were not to be denied for long with Stander finishing off a sustained period of pressure to force his way over, with Carbery’s conversion setting up a tense last 15 minutes.

Exeter lost both Sam Skinner and Dave Ewers with head injuries in the build-up to Stander’s try so Cowan-Dickie had to return to play out of position for 10 minutes.

Munster escaped Sandy Park with two points in the bag

Ewers returned after passing his Head Injury Assessment to see his side dominate the final three minutes but Munster deservedly clung on for a valuable two points.

Meanwhile in Pool 5, Montpellier made a winning start to their campaign with a 21-15 home victory over Edinburgh, with their tries coming through full-back Henry Immelman, wing Benjamin Fall and centre Gabriel N’gandebe. However, Edinburgh, who scored tries through hooker Stuart McInally and wing Dougie Fife, secured what could prove a crucial bonus point in a group that also contains Newcastle Falcons and three-time champions Toulon, who meet on Sunday.

Teams

Exeter: Dollman, Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Cordero, Steenson, Townsend, Moon (Hepburn, 58), Cowan-Dickie (Yeandle, 58), Williams (Francis, 58), Dennis (Atkins, 43), Skinner, Ewers (Lawday, 65), Armand, Kvesic.

Replacements not used: J Maunder, J Simmonds, S. Hill.

Munster: Haley, Conway, Goggin (Arnold, 61, Hanrahan, 69), R Scannell, Sweetnam, Carbery, Williams (N Cronin, 74), Kilcoyne (J Cronin, 46), N Scannell (Marshall, 58), Archer (Ryan, 46), Kleyn (Holland, 61), Beirne, P O’Mahony, Cloete (O’Donnell, 61), Stander.

Replacements: Arnold for Goggin (61), N. Cronin for Williams (74), J. Cronin for Kilcoyne (46), Marshall for N. Scannell (58), Ryan for Archer (46), Holland for Kleyn (61), O’Donnell for Cloete (61),

PA

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