Premiership: Exeter beat Gloucester 28-20 for fourth straight bonus-point win
|Exeter (7) 28|
|Tries: S Simmonds 2, Gray, Devoto Cons: J Simmonds 3|
|Gloucester (6) 20|
|Tries: Venner 2 Cons: Evans 2 Pens: Evans 2|
Exeter extended their perfect start to the Premiership campaign with a hard-earned win over battling Gloucester.
Jonny Gray’s try earned Exeter’s slim half-time lead, sandwiched between Lloyd Evans penalties, as Gloucester failed to take their chances.
Centre Ollie Devoto crossed and number eight Sam Simmonds drove over from close range for a 21-6 lead.
But Toby Venner twice went under the posts as the visitors hit back, either side of Simmonds’ bonus-point try.
Exeter, back in action for the first time since forfeiting their Champions Cup tie with Toulouse after a coronavirus outbreak, started slowly.
Gloucester were held up over the try line and then missed a kick at goal before Evans slotted them deservedly ahead after 11 minutes.
The visitors then had a man advantage when Ian Whitten was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, but it was the 14-man Chiefs who went ahead when Gray muscled his way over after several phases.
Evans cut the deficit to a point with his second penalty, but the visitors would rue their missed opportunities as the Chiefs moved up a few gears after the break.
Gloucester had no answer to the hosts’ trademark forward power as Devoto walked over after Joe Simmonds’ chip allowed the Chiefs to set up camp on the Gloucester line, before the league’s leading try scorer Sam Simmonds powered over.
The response was good, however, and after Ollie Thorley – a late bench replacement for academy product Tom Seabrook – was tackled into touch close to the line, Mark Atkinson’s fine offload broke the Chiefs defence for Venner to cross.
Simmonds emerged from the bottom of a ruck to muscle over for his eighth Premiership try of the season, but Gloucester hit back again when Ed Slater’s break sent Venner clear for his second try before Evans missed a last-gasp kick which would have rescued a deserved losing bonus point.
Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:
“It wasn’t what you’d call a vintage Chiefs performance. There were mistakes, there was ball on the floor, there were penalties and a bit of lack of discipline. Things didn’t really click and function as they have so far.
“But, flipping it on its head, credit to the players for coming together. We had guys on the field starting who had virtually no training for two weeks, hadn’t really run with the ball.
“There were some hairy moments out there, created by the lack of training and time together, but we stood and fought and made the points go our way. I have to give the players great credit for that.”
Gloucester head coach George Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
“They’d only conceded one try in four games and we’ve scored two, so I’m disappointed to come to the double champs and get so close.
“We came here believing. The boys are really buying into what we’re trying to do. It’s about being aggressive and hitting people hard.
“We know we’re still building the foundations and we’re not the finished article but we are starting to see a tight group, who work hard for each other.”
Exeter: Hogg; Woodburn, Whitten, Devoto, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Gray, S Skinner, Ewers, Kirsten, S Simmonds.
Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Street, Armand, Capstick, Hidalgo-Clyne, H Skinner, Hendrickson.
Gloucester: Moyle; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Atkinson, May; Evans, Chapman; Rapava-Ruskin, Singleton, Balmain, Slater, Alemanno, Reid, Ludlow (capt), Ackermann.
Replacements: Walker, Ford-Robinson, Knight, Craig, Nagle-Taylor, Venner, Barton, Thorley.
Referee: Tom Foley.