Exeter go top after beating Sale

Date published: December 26 2015

Exeter provisionally moved to the top of the Premiership table after claiming a 33-17 victory over Sale at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Five tries for the home side saw them ease past Sale, but fly-half Gareth Steenson's kicking was off-form as he missed a number of attempts to add to Exeter's wealthy scoreline. 

A slow start to the game meant it took 11 minutes for Danny Cipriani to open the scoring, giving Sale a three-point lead from the tee. Seven minutes later Exeter took the lead, as the TMO gave the verdict that Thomas Waldrom's try wass legitimate, but a day of poor kicking from Steenson saw him miss his first attempt. 

Will Chudley then extended Exeter's lead soon after, as he found a gap in the Sale defence to carry it home. Steenson's second shot at goal also flew wide in the wind. 

Sale's Will Addison touched down to bring his side back in to the tie, with Cipriani's conversion bringing Sale level after half an hour. 

Six minutes in to the second half Josh Beaumont put Sale ahead in windy Devon, with his father Bill watching on from the stands, and Cipriani converted once more. 

As Exeter looked to fight back in order to take them to the top of the Premiership, Chudley scored his second try of the game, but Steenson's third attempt failed to add the extras once again. With 54 minutes on the clock, Sale failed to release the ball from a ruck and gave Steenson a chance to slot his first points of the game – an opportunity he finally took to take the Devon side in to an 18-17 lead. 

Going in to the final ten minutes, Exeter's James Short secured the bonus point and extended the lead for the home side after having a try disallowed earlier in the game. 

Steenson found his feet at converted to take his side beyond a one-score margin. After a short break in play, Exeter maintained their attacking impetus and scored a fifth try through Tom Johnson, but Steenson yet again failed to convert in windy conditions. 

A day to forget for Sale ended with full-back Mike Haley seeing yellow, as Exeter took themselves to the top of the Aviva Premiership having played one game more than the chasing Saracens.

The scorers:

For Exeter:
Tries: Waldrom, Chudley 2, Short, Johnson
Con: Steenson
Pens: Steenson, Hooley

For Sale:
Tries: Addison, Beaumont
Cons: Cipriani 2
Pen: Cipriani
Yellow Card: Haley

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Michele Campagnaro

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings

Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Geoffrey Warren