Premiership: Exeter Chiefs keep themselves in play-off hunt after beating high-flying Sale Sharks

premiership exeter chiefs and Sale sharks Credit: Alamy
premiership exeter chiefs and Sale sharks Credit: Alamy

Exeter Chiefs boosted their top-four hopes in a tightly congested Premiership table after beating second-place Sale Sharks 24-22 at Sandy Park.

The Sharks started the game on the front foot, going 10-0 in front via Rob du Preez’s penalty and Tom Roebuck’s try, but Exeter hit back superbly.

They scored 21 unanswered points through Harry Williams’ score and a brace from Josh Hodge to lead at the break.

Sale had been ill-disciplined, losing Sam Dugdale and Bevan Rodd to the sin bin, but they tidied up matters in the second period and went ahead as Ewan Ashman and Dugdale touched down.

Alex Sanderson’s men were unable to hold that advantage, however, and Harvey Skinner’s three-pointer snatched the win for the Chiefs and kept them in the Premiership play-off hunt.

Click here for teams and scorers

Sale included former Exeter stars Jonny Hill and Tom O’Flaherty in their line-up, with scrum-half Raffi Quirke on the bench.

With Sale conceding a host of penalties, Chiefs were able to dominate the early exchanges. Jack Nowell split the defence with one enterprising run but despite being under sustained pressure, the visitors managed to keep their line intact.

After 12 minutes, Exeter suffered a blow when their fly-half Skinner was yellow-carded for a high challenge, with Du Preez kicking the resulting penalty.

Skinner was still in the sin bin when Sale extended their lead with a superb solo try from Roebuck. On halfway, the wing received possession before weaving his way through the defence and then round Hodge to score. Du Preez converted to give Sale a useful 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

Skinner returned with no further damage done to the scoreboard and in time to see Williams open his side’s account by crashing over from close range, with Sale’s flanker Dugdale yellow-carded for collapsing a driving maul.

Within minutes Rodd had followed his team-mate to the sin bin as the prop was pinged for a deliberate offside.

Despite being down to 13, Sale should have scored their second try. Du Preez twice hacked on the loose ball, and it bounced kindly, but remarkably O’Flaherty failed to collect with the line beckoning.

Exeter made them pay when skilful play created two tries for Hodge in quick succession, both being converted by Skinner to give Chiefs a 21-10 half-time lead.

Both Dugdale and Rodd had returned by the restart and it was Dugdale who raised his side’s spirits with a couple of lively bursts, the second of which resulting in a try for Ashman.

With 20 minutes remaining, Quirke and Josh Beaumont were introduced as Sale continued to boss the second half and eventually their dominance was rewarded when Dugdale forced his way over.

Du Preez missed the touchline conversion before Skinner sealed victory with a 40-metre penalty with eight minutes left on the clock.

READ MORE: Richard Wigglesworth labels London Irish win as ‘crucial’ for Leicester Tigers

The article Premiership: Exeter Chiefs keep themselves in play-off hunt after beating high-flying Sale Sharks appeared first on