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Home > News > Exeter Chiefs 45 Coventry 8
Your News Exeter Chiefs 45 Coventry 8

Written by John Butler

Monday, 24 November 2008

What was very evident from the outset soon became even clearer as Coventry faced a very major uphill battle at Sandy Park.

Living off nothing more than scraps of possession as a consequence of being under pressure throughout in line outs and scrums, it was backs to the wall from the very first whistle.

Exeter, with high hopes of continuing their push towards the Premiership must have controlled at least 75% of this encounter in front of 4256 largely home fans. If as their form suggests at home they can defeat Leeds away in mid December, the top on National Division One would have a decidedly interesting look to it.

Coventry for their part for significant periods were brave in defence, the problem was that with all the constant pressure although many tackles were committed, a lot more were missed. That was particularly so and disappointing late on when fresh legs had been applied to the cause with two Exeter tries coming in injury time which perhaps put a slightly unfair slant on the score line.

Seven tries conceded but when backs are to the wall luck rarely seems to play a positive hand. Two of Exeterís tries should certainly not have been allowed, referee Lewis missing clear forward passes, but where then was the help that should have been forthcoming from his touch judges ? There was also more than an element of doubt to the validity of the Chiefs first try, observers close to the scene suggesting an incorrect grounding. All that said Exeter could argue they were mighty close to scoring probably four more tries.

Quite how the hosts failed to score in the opening 10 minutes or so will remain a mystery, Steenson missing a straight forward head on penalty, winger Jess losing possession right on the line. Sestaret finally did cross on 16 minutes after a cross field diagonal run, but even there the feed into the original scrum appeared at best suspect. By half time full back Breeze had also crossed twice, Steenson converting both, whilst for Cov after Donovan Sanders had half charged down an attempted clearance in a rare attack, George Dixon collected the rebound, Exeter were penalised for Ronnie McLean to slot the simple penalty.

From 19-3 down at half time but with wind advantage, Coventry in their smart new away kit needed a positive start to the second half, but with a lack of possession continuing to be a major problem, the match continued in a similar vein. Covís cause was not helped on 65 minutes with Jamie Miller yellow carded for not allowing a quick penalty top be taken with Exeter just afterwards scoring the first try of the half and fourth overall as McKenzie sliced through the centre Steenson to convert. Three more tries were to follow through Fatialofa and in injury time Jess and Pugh as Covís tackling particularly in the final quarter faltered. Replacement Gray converted the last two.

Coventry had their moment after 70 minutes, Laurie McGlone now on at number eight crashing over following a drive from a close in line out, Tommy Hayes, another replacement, missing the conversion.

Coventry. Ben Russell, Ronnie McLean, George Dixon, Donovan Sanders, Ollie Winter, Myles Dorrian, Nathan Jones, Laurence Ovens, Chris Whithead, Rob Dugard, Sam Herrington, David Lyons, Henno Venter (Capt), Jamie Miller, Greg Thomas.

Replacements; Stewart Pearl for Whitehead, Laurie McGlone for Thomas, Carl Burgess for Lyons, Mike Walls for Jones, Tommy Hayes for McLean, Rudi Brits for Ovens.

Exeter Chiefs. Tries; Ben Breeze 2, Nic Sestaret, Mark Fatialofa, Paul McKenzie, Matt Jess, Richie Pugh. Conversions; Gareth Steenson 3, Danny Gray 2

Coventry. Try; Laurie McGlone. Penalty goal; Ronnie McLean

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