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Exeter easily defeats Leicester with Henry Slade in the lead.
Rugby union Sport

Exeter easily defeats Leicester with Henry Slade in the lead.

The holiday season is approaching, but Exeter has already received their ideal present. A historic crowd of 15,000 attended this impressive win, securing the Chiefs’ spot in the top four of the 10-team Gallagher Premiership table at the midpoint of the season. Meanwhile, Leicester’s defeat leaves them in eighth place.

Although the Tigers have not yet eaten their turkey, they are well aware of what makes a delicious stuffing. By the 50th minute, Exeter had a comfortable lead of 24-0 and their energy, quickness, and abilities far surpassed those of the unenthusiastic visiting team. Despite winning their last five games in all competitions, the visitors were no match for the youthful and confident Chiefs, who have not lost a home game since October 2022.

Despite having nine players who were featured in the World Cup, Leicester’s strong team was unable to defeat their opponents. This team has also defeated Toulon and Munster in the Champions Cup in a thrilling manner this month.

Henry Slade, who was playing exceptionally well, scored a try and earned 12 points. He was awarded the man of the match. The Chiefs pack also performed impressively, with No 8 Greg Fisilau having another great game and Rus Tuima scoring the fourth try for his team in the final moments.

Unfortunately, Leicester will return home without the holiday spirit. They arrived on Friday, but seemed to still be mentally on the M5. The Chiefs were quick to take advantage of a scrum and scored a penalty kick, followed by a try from Jacques Vermeulen. The Tigers could not argue when Exeter scored their second try, as George Martin was given a yellow card for tackling Rory O’Loughlin without the ball, resulting in a penalty try.

Freddie Steward evades an Exeter opponent as he runs with the ball

Even though the Chiefs have many new players, their strong reputations do not intimidate them. Fisilau and Welsh lock Dafydd Jenkins are clearly up-and-coming talents, but even with the presence of Leicester’s Springbok World Cup winner Jasper Wiese and other notable teammates, their forward momentum remains inconsistent.

In addition to the lineout, where the opposing team managed to take a few balls, the Chiefs dominated in most aspects and could have scored a couple more tries in the first half. Lewis Pearson was at fault for holding onto the ball while having two teammates in advantageous positions, and Jack Yeandle’s try was not counted due to a violation near the line. On a positive note, Ollie Devoto made his first league start of the season for Exeter, after overcoming two hip surgeries to earn his place back in the team’s midfield.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, their troubles were compounded when Ben Youngs, England’s most experienced scrum-half, suffered a leg injury within the first 30 minutes of the game. Things quickly went downhill from there. Slade, who has been making a strong impression this Christmas season like Noddy Holder, was quick to seize a stray pass from Pollard. He skillfully scooped it up off the ground and used his speed to run 40 meters for a try between the goal posts.

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Leicester had no choice but to increase their efforts. They narrowly won the second half 10-8 and were able to score tries on the sides for England players Anthony Watson and Freddie Steward, but it was only a temporary relief. In the final moments, a close-range push resulted in Tuima finding a gap in the defense, and Slade’s missed conversion was his only unsuccessful kick of the day.

The Chiefs will play Bristol at Ashton Gate on Friday and are currently only four points behind halfway leaders, Bath. This was a notable win for a team that has been consistently defeating teams that are considered to be stronger. Head coach Ali Hepher expressed his satisfaction with the team’s mental preparedness, stating that they have been determined and focused all week, leading to a strong performance.

The director of rugby for Leicester, Dan McKellar, admitted that his team had a rough start and must make significant improvements to recover against Bath on New Year’s Eve. He stated, “I don’t believe it will be difficult to turn things around for Bath. Rugby is a game of physicality and today we were lacking in all aspects. If we continue to do so, we won’t be able to defeat anyone. We must ensure that we approach next Sunday with a different attitude and determination.”

Source: theguardian.com