Exeter Chiefs 25 Gloucester 24
While many of Exeter Chiefs’ golden generation may have left last summer for pastures new, one golden seam remains in place at Sand Park.
Ignored by England head coach Steve Borthwick for this summer’s Rugby World Cup, Henry Slade’s mission is not only to prove his doubters wrong, but at the same time help nurture the club’s new kids on the block.
With time running out and his club staring down the barrel of what could be their first win on home soil in over a year, Exeter’s own Rolls Royce went into overdrive, scoring a winning blow that sent Gloucester into a frenzy and criticized the visitors for the fourth place in a row Gallagher. Victory in the Premier Division.
Often front and center for many of Exeter’s biggest success stories in recent years, the 30-year-old has never been more important to the Taoiseach’s success. His value to the club is immeasurable and you can bet your bottom dollar Director of Rugby Rob Baxter is already crunching the numbers to ensure his prized asset stays put for the long haul.
“Henry has a lot to offer,” Baxter said. “I’m watching him train and play now with an energy that I always watch him train and play with. I think he was one of those guys who played with a lot of weight on his shoulders the last couple of seasons.
“You can see now that he’s a bit freed from that and he’s making the most of it and everyone around him. On top of that, it’s the man who will be holding his nerve in those times of pressure because he’s been there and done that. It’s not just the penalty, it’s the conversion before that, and with Joe Hawkins in the center alongside him, they were the biggest difference between the two sides today.”
Just as they have done in previous home games this term, the Taoiseach were quick to attack. Making the most of an early yellow card for Gloucester No.8 Clement, the Devonians saw skipper Jenkins held up over the line, before finally getting their head on ten minutes.
Using the strength of their much-improved scrum, Tom Cairns bravely sprinted from the base, before Tuima, the Fijian-born force in the second row, curled his way over for the opening score.
Thuima’s joy, however, would be a little short-lived as he followed the same path to Clement’s daring feat when he was famously beaten high by Gloucester George McGuigan’s hooks.
In his absence, his fellow Leaders did their best to plug the hole he left in the heart of Exeter’s engine room. In fact, for much of their time in the cold, they did the job brilliantly, before a burst from Louis Rees-Zammit, then a clever decoy run from Chris Harris, paved the way for Clement to make his way through the great yawning. a gap in the home defense.
With parity restored, the home side clicked back into gear with Slade the ‘Leader’. His hot step in midfield saw him slip away from cover, before sending the ball back inside for skipper Dafydd Jenkins to claim his first flying score.
Gloucester improved greatly after the break against the scoreboard with the wind howling under the pitch. Although many of their attacking attempts were thwarted during the first period, now things were looking up.
As the pressure began to mount on the Chiefs, the Cherries and Whites looked to make hay. Ollie Thorley began the initial threat as they prepared for their second try, pressing hard on the Exeter backline, before clever work from Seb Atkinson and Santi Carreras created the opening for Thorley to thunder home.
Slade got his side back in front shortly after with a routine penalty, but the visitors failed to counter to good effect, hitting their rivals with a ferocious ‘one-two’ that earned them the all-important bonus point .
Rees-Zammit’s side powered their way to the first score in the right-hand corner, before Atkinson got into the act, finishing off a great move from the Argentine pairing of Santiago Socino and Matias Alemanno.
With nine minutes left on the clock, the Taoiseach had to gather their resources. Encouraged by their supporters, they did just this, Stu Townsend taking to the air to make his way to a crucial score. Slade rattled off the conversion under pressure, before adding the coupe de grace in the final minute, stepped forward to score the game-winning penalty just inside the opposition half.
It was ‘Balls of Steel’ stuff from the Plymouth-born playwright, but it emphasized his undoubted worth to the Exeter cause.
Scoring sequence: 5-0 Try Tuima, 7-0 Slade Conversion, 7-5 Clement Try, 7-7 Barton Conversion, 12-7 Jenkins Try, 12-12 Thorley Try, 15-12 Slade Pen, 15-17 Rees-Zammit Try, 15-19 Barton Con, 15-24 Atkinson Try, 20-24 Townsend Try, 22-24 Slade Con, 25-24 Slade Pen
Exeter Leaders: T Wyatt; I Feyi-Waboso, H Slade, J Hawkins, B Hammersley (O Woodburn 63, W Haydon-Wood 66); H Skinner, T Cairns (S Townsend 62); S Sio (N Abuladze 52), J Yeandle (D Frost 52), E Painter (J Iosefa-Scott 52); R Tuima (L Pearson 62), D Jenkins (c); E Roots (R Vincent 65), J Vermeulen A Davis.
Yellow Card: Tuima
Gloucester Rugby: S Carreras; L Rees-Zammit, C Harris, S Atkinson, O Thorley; G Barton, M Young (S Varney 63); M Vivas (H Elrington 56), G McGuigan (S Socino 56), F Balmain (C Knight 56); F Clarke, M Alemanno; A Tuisue (F Thomas 18), L Ludlow (c), J Clement. Subs (not used): A Clark, M Atkinson, L Hillman-Cooper.
Yellow Card: Clement
Referee: I am tempest
Baxter dismisses the Chiefs’ financial fears
Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has hinted that Gallagher’s Premiership outfit are in financial trouble.
Reports on Sunday revealed concern at the Devon club after it emerged that the Lords playing squad had received a delayed payment of their wages last month.
Baxter said: “There’s no secret to what happened, what’s upsetting people – and this is the way the world of rugby is at the moment – is how it turned out. The players were not paid a day late, they were paid the same morning as they should have been.
“The reality is that we have an automated system that is sent to a bank with all the payroll data. That usually arrives in the back account of the players sometime just after midnight on the day of the month they are paid.
“It hadn’t been paid by eight o’clock that morning, I was told that, so I contacted the accounts department here. They were already aware of the problem and contacted the bank. Simply put, someone entered an error in the account name or number, which meant it didn’t happen automatically.
“As soon as that was changed, they were all paid by 10am. The problem is that in that period of time someone has texted someone else and said ‘have you been paid, have I been paid’ and some journalist has got hold of it.”
Baxter added: “The club is looking at the situation if people are falsely making a big deal out of it and it’s costing us anything financially, the club is looking at the legal side of things like eventually everyone is paid. on the right day of the month and there seem to be a few stories floating around making a little more of it than that. If that causes us to lose sponsors, it’s a financial situation.”
Premiership Rugby has been hit in the past month by the loss of London Irish, Wasps and Worcester Warriors due to financial issues. Losing another club would be seen by many as a disaster, so Baxter’s latest comments will help ease fears about the modern game.
“For me, there’s no other story than three other clubs that have gone bankrupt recently, that’s what makes it a story,” he said. “The only reason it ever came out is because someone panicked a bit at some point about not getting paid.
“We have guys, like a lot of other clubs, who were at clubs that went bankrupt and probably had the same situation when they weren’t paid. I was sitting at the staff meeting and I said to the lads ‘you’re all going to be paid in the next few hours’ and before the end of the meeting they were paid.”