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Home > News > Exeter Chiefs 32 - Doncaster Knights 20
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Your News Exeter Chiefs 32 - Doncaster Knights 20

The Knights arrived at Sandy Park on the back of a rare home defeat to Bedford the previous week while the Chiefs were no doubt brimming with confidence following an excellent start to the season at Moseley. The history between the two clubs, however, shows that these teams are closely matched, with very tight scores showing Exeter as having the upper hand, but only just.

Chiefs kicked off on a bright sunny day into Doncaster’s 22. The return ball was collected and Doncaster were up quickly to bundle man and ball to touch. Hoani Tui infringed at the ruck to give Doncaster a penalty. Exeter disrupted the lineout and snaffled possession but a clearance kick went out on the full.

The first opportunity for points came Doncaster’s way when an Exeter player failed to release at the breakdown, offering an easy three points to fly-half James Brooks seven minutes in. Immediately from the restart, Doncaster conceded a penalty and were marched a further 10 metres for dissent. Exeter opted to kick at goal. Gareth Steenson was bang on to level the scores.

After a period of frenetic play, the referee awarded a second penalty to Chiefs about 30 metres out. Steenson set himself up and once again did the business to take the score to 6-3. It seemed as if this might become a game of infringement and penalty as again Chiefs conceded in a kickable position. Brooks was this time well wide of the upright and Exeter duly cleared to touch. At this stage, Doncaster looked up for it and attacked with vigour but became frustrated with the all enveloping Exeter defence and the ball came back for a poor drop-goal attempt.

The Knights eventually took the ball forwards and scored via route one although the referee saw fit to award a penalty try making the conversion simple to take the visitors into the lead.

With their tails up, Doncaster were now attacking with vigour but Chiefs defence held. Chiefs eventually turned over but anxious hands knocked on to give Doncaster the scrum on Exeters 22. After resetting several times, the referee lost patience and awarded the penalty Exeter’s way after Doncaster were adjudged to have collapsed. Exeter gained another penalty for a breakdown offence and Steenson stepped up to reduce the deficit to just one point.

Once the Chiefs got their game flowing, the ball went slickly through the back-line and Matt Jess showed some power to break two tackles made it to the try line. From wide out, Steenson curved the ball almost magically to convert to make the score 16-10 after 34 minutes gone.

Again awarded a penalty, Chiefs opted for the lineout, and while the Knights held the initial drive, the shove came before the ball went out and several phases passed before Exeter ultimately knocked on to relieve the pressure on Doncaster in their own 22. Exeter held their own and more at the scrum, disrupting Doncaster, who then conceded a penalty to make it 19-10.

Following a late tackle, Exeter pressed their advantage with half-time approaching with the penalty kick going to Doncaster’s 22. However, an infringement by Exeter gave Doncaster the initiative with a free kick at the lineout; their kick to touch being the last action of the half.

Shortly after the restart, a fumble by Doncaster saw Josh Matavesi leap on the ball and cross for his first Exeter try on his full debut.

Doncaster replied immediately with a penalty converted by Brooks. They were to be next on the board when after a period of pressure on Chiefs’ try-line, the Knights opted to put the ball to the backs and Bevon Armitage crossed to score with the conversion by Brooks which brought the score to 26-20.

Exeter were looking the dominant force as the half wore on but the final piece never seemed to come. With Doncaster penalised for offside, it was deemed sensible to slot the three points, duly achieved by Steenson.

Doncaster were now making all of their own pressure and were penalised for handling. A superb kick to touch put Chiefs on the opposition five-metre line. A further penalty gave Exeter another chance for a kick at goal and Steenson did it again to make it 32-20. This was the final score of the afternoon with neither team gaining much of an advantage as the clock ran down.

Teams:

Exeter Chiefs – Matavesi (Rennie 57mins); Jess, Dollman, Cornwell, Foster; Steenson, Thomas (Stuart-Smith 57mins); Sturgess, Clark (Alcott 63mins), Tui, Hayes (capt) (Tomes 74mins), Hanks, Johnson (Slade 63mins), Scaysbrook, Baxter.

Replacements: Alcott, Murphy (unused), Tomes, Slade, Stuart-Smith, Gray, Rennie.

Doncaster Knights – Davies; Wright, Tonga’uiha, Armitage (D’Arcy 63mins), Flockhart; Brooks, Hallam (Briers 63mins); Corsar (Toke 45mins), Boden (Lawrie 68mins), Davies, Kenworthy (Griffiths 68mins), Townson, Kettle (Boyd 48mins), Grainger, Smith.

Match officials:

Ref - Rob Debney; TJs - Darran Gamage & Eric Woodmason.

Scorers

Exeter Chiefs – Tries: Jess, Matavesi; Cons: Steenson (2); Pens: Steenson (6).

Doncaster Knights– Tries: Penalty, Armitage; Cons: Brooks (2); Pens: Brooks (2).

Attendance 3,573

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