Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Chiefs claim maiden win in Europe

Gareth Steenson

Exeter Chiefs clinched their first victory in Europe with a comfortable 34-19 win against Bourgoin.

The Aviva Premiership newcomers bounced back from defeat in their opening tie to keep alive their hopes of progressing in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Tries from Bryan Rennie and Hayden Thomas gave the Chiefs a surprise 26-5 half-time lead at Stade Pierre Rajon before Mark Foster completed the historic win. Bourgoin also scored three tries but the boot of Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson proved the difference with 19 points.

Exeter rang the changes for the visit to the former Challenge Cup champions, recalling a raft of front-line players following last week's defeat to Montpellier. Steenson was back in the driving seat at fly-half and wasted no time in opening a six-point lead in as many minutes with two penalties.

Bourgoin number eight Yan Labrit rumbled over after nine minutes but Steenson hit back almost immediately with a third kick.

Centre Rennie crossed after 23 minutes to open breathing space before a moment of opportunism from Thomas saw Exeter take a grip on the game. The scrum-half pounced when the ball squirted out of a Bourgoin scrum and galloped over from 30 metres out. Steenson converted and added a penalty before half-time.

Brando Va'aula spearheaded the anticipated backlash from the home side but wing Foster skipped over to safeguard's Exeter's lead.

Fit-again Richard Baxter marred his first start of the season following injury with a yellow card just moments after Ratu Nasiganiyavi was sent to the sin bin. The Fijian returned to score in the final minute but that was too late to deny Exeter.

Connacht got their Pool One campaign back on track and did Harlequins a favour at the same time by beating Bayonne 16-13 in Galway.

Sean Cronin and Gavin Duffy scored in either half but a try from replacement hooker David Roumieu, converted by Jean-Baptiste Peyras, set up a nail-biting climax at the Sportsground.

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