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Home > News > Exeter Chiefs 13 - Leeds Carnegie 14
Your News Exeter Chiefs 13 - Leeds Carnegie 14

With most pundits tipping either one of these two sides for the league title this season, this was undoubtedly a big draw to Sandy Park despite the weather forecast. Both sides came away from the first weekend’s action with comfortable wins, although some might argue that Exeter had the easier opener.

After heavy downpours of rain in the previous days and on the morning of the match, the away side kicked off to the south under brightening skies. They collected the ball but knocked on in the process to give the Chiefs the first scrum.

An early lineout steal gave Chiefs confidence and by running hard at the opposition, they made some inroads with backs and forwards linking well to yield a penalty when Leeds illegally killed the ball at a breakdown. The metronome that is Gareth Steenson opted for a kick at goal but was marginally wide. From the drop out, Josh Drauniniu collected and chipped ahead, unfortunately to touch. Exeter then returned the penalty favour by not rolling away and from the lineout, Leeds launched their first attack and split the defence a pace for Richard Welding to score and Di Bernardo to convert on seven minutes.

Exeter launched a great counterattack from a box kick fumbled by the Leeds fly-half but were unable to convert it to points, giving Leeds the lineout about 15 metres out and were penalised for a maul infringement. It became clear minutes later that Exeter could be in for a very long afternoon when hooker Vili Ma’asi stormed over and Di Bernardo again converted with 12 minutes played.

Now taking Leeds on at close quarters, the Chiefs enjoyed some success but a stolen ball was knocked on by Leeds giving a scrum about 30 metres from the Leeds line. A scrum against the head put Leeds on the attack but a great covering tackle by Kevin Barrett snuffed the threat out and gifted the Chiefs a penalty. A game of kicking pong pong ensued from which the Chiefs gained some good territory.

Playing with more patience through phases saw the Chiefs deep in Leeds’ 22 only to concede a penalty for going over at the ruck. Some clever high balls were putting the Chiefs under real pressure and one such error again put Leeds in a very handy attacking position 25 metres out in the centre of the pitch. Having nullified that threat Exeter, had a great chance at the hands of Barrett, who set up an attack down the right only for Leeds to force a knock-on then clear well from the scrum.

Leeds’ luck was not to last though when following a couple of phases Barrett put out a snappy pass to Steenson who made yards enough to put Drauniniu with just one defender to beat. The winger glided past the cover to score with ease. Steenson’s conversion put Exeter right back in the game with 13 minutes of the half still to play. A second in quick succession threatened but the grubber over the tryline was easily collected by Welding and touched down.

A frenetic period of play ensued with both sides seemingly trying to exert dominance through chaos, Leeds eventually being penalised for not rolling away and Steenson opting for a kick at goal from fully 55 metres and slightly to the right of the goal. He mishit and the ball fell short and wide. From the restart, Leeds again opted to kick at Exeter, and this time it was Barrett’s turn to drop the ball. Leeds however were making mistakes of their own and a spilled ball to give Exeter the scrum, duly won but the grubber was fractionally long and was dabbed down by the Leeds full-back. With the clock running down and the error rate for both teams rising, the referee awarded one last scrum to Exeter before the half-time break. Again, scrappy play by both sides came to nothing and the half-time whistle came with no change to the score.

After gifting two early tries, the Chiefs had at least managed to claw their way back into the game and were only seven points adrift had at least gained parity of performance if not points. The second half was set up to be a nail biter.

From Exeter’s kick, Leeds were adjudged to have knocked on and a trademark Barrett break got the home side moving forwards and Leeds were penalised 20 metres out but wide to the left. Once again the usually reliable boot of Steenson was off target. For once the high return ball was fumbled by a Leeds player, prop Fosi at fault – scrum Exeter. Baxter on the charge from the back of the scrum made good ground and with no ball emerging from the ruck, Exeter once again had the put-in at the scrum 25 metres from the Leeds line. Drauninui was penalised for crossing and Leeds cleared to halfway.

From the lineout, the Yorkshiremen made good inroads, especially through the centre channel, and only Gary Kingdom’s gather of the grubber saved a try. He was forced over the line before he could clear and gave Leeds the five-metre scrum. Leeds’ move off the scrum came to nothing when they knocked on. Exeter ripped apart the Leeds line from the scrum to charge up to near halfway when a wayward pass was knocked on by a Leeds hand. Playing advantage, a crossfield kick put the Leeds winger under pressure and Drauniniu forced him into touch. Frenetic play by the Chiefs almost yielded the try but in the end they had to settle for a penalty converted by Steenson 10-14 after 13 minutes of the second period.

While not playing at their best, the Chiefs were at this stage slowly working their way into the game and following a penalty and lineout, made their way slowly forwards through a multi-phased attack to the increasing pleasure of the crowd, only to be forced back and then knocking on to give the visitors a scrum. Once more Leeds’ attack was snuffed out and Exeter gained the scrum. On came, Tom Johnson for Chris Cracknell.

With Leeds’ defence looking very difficult to breach, a grubber through was seen as the right option. With Drauninui chasing, the ball rolled to touch and Exeter were penalised at the lineout.

Exeter were beginning to look the sharper side with some incisive running keeping Leeds and the near 6,000 crowd on their toes, but a silly knock-on kept the Chiefs from making the most of an excellent scoring chance. Very soon afterwards a spectacular Exeter break by Kingdom almost saw him clear with the loose ball kicked on by Barrett who thought he had scored only for the referee to adjudge a knock-on.

The next scoring chance again fell to Exeter following an offence by Leeds and the decision was made once again for Steenson to kick at goal, this time successfully. With around 10 minutes remaining this game was far from over at 13-14.

Leeds, now with their tails up, attacked with vigour only to be turned over 10 metres out, unfortunately a forward pass nullified Exeter’s attack and gave Leeds the scrum less than 10 metres out. Having delayed the put-in, Leeds then fluffed the scrum and conceded a knock-on and scrum to Exeter.

A beautiful clearance by Steenson put play into the Leeds’ half though the visitors secured the lineout ball and mounted their attack with Exeter penalised for hands in the ruck. Now going for the jugular, Leeds kicked to touch on Exeters’ 22. Working the ball into the middle of the pitchit came back to Di Bernardo who fluffed his drop-goal attempt despite having what seemed like days to set himself up.

The referee then gave a knock-on against Exeter and again Leeds attacked again to be stopped dead and penalised for killing the ball. A quick tap was taken and the ball eventually cleared to 35 metres from Leeds’ line with a Leeds throw in. A short lineout throw went back to the hooker who charged forward off-loading to his lock, who was tackled five metres from the line.

One last desperate attack from within their own 22 came to nothing for Exeter and Leeds drew first blood albeit by the slimmest of margins.


Exeter Chiefs – Kingdom; Sestaret, Rennie, Cornwell, Drauninui; Steenson, Barrett (Stuart-Smith(72mins); Budgen (Parkes 70mins), Clarke (Alcott 77mins), Andress, Stevenson, Tuohy, Cracknell (Johnson 61mins), Andy Miller, Baxter (capt).

Leeds Carnegie – Hinton; Welding, Hepworth, Barrow (Brooks 60mins), Biggs; Di Bernardo, Mathie (Bedford 68mins); MacDonald (capt), Ma'asi (McGee 64mins), Pala'amo, Murphy (Boyde 72mins), Pendlebury, D Paul, Fourie, Oakley.


Exeter Chiefs – Try: Drauniniu; Con: Steenson; Pens: Steenson (2).

Leeds Carnegie – Tries: Welding, Ma’asi; Cons: Di Bernardo (2).

Attendance 5,693

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