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Exeter live up to billing with comfortable win over Wasps

Wasps had no answer to the Chiefs.

Tom O’Flaherty scored a superb try (Richard Sellers/PA)
Tom O’Flaherty scored a superb try (Richard Sellers/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Exeter Chiefs backed up their newly-appointed Gallagher Premiership title favourites tag as they secured a 38-3 bonus-point victory over struggling Wasps.

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Tries from England internationals Ben Moon and Luke Cowan-Dickie, a penalty try, a superb Tom O’Flaherty effort and a powerful score from an Alec Hepburn surge saw Rob Baxter’s men banish the ghosts of a shock loss in this fixture seven months ago.

Wasps made the worst possible start when Dan Robson’s kick from just outside the 22 got caught in the swirling Sandy Park wind and drifted out on the full.

The Chiefs swarmed to claim a line-out ball and after patient phase play, loose-head prop Moon drove over from a couple of metres out for a try Gareth Steenson improved from the tee.

Jacob Umaga scored his first points since signing a new senior deal at Wasps in midweek by slotting over a penalty, but Steenson cancelled it out with his second successful kick at goal after 20 minutes.

It was Wasps’ 21-year-old half-back who created two gilt-edged chances as Italian international Matteo Minozzi profited from excellent link-up play from Nizaam Carr and Zach Kibirige, only for a wonderful try-saving tackle from O’Flaherty to prevent the full-back’s first score in England following his summer move from Zebre.

Moments later it was Michael Le Bourgeois’ chance to snatch at an opportunity, forcing an offload metres from the line into a defender’s hands.

Exeter counter-attacked and it was that man O’Flaherty, this time with the ball in his hands, wreaking havoc.

With Wasps back-pedalling and Jack Nowell pleading for the ball, the wingers failed to make it stick with the pass bouncing loose and into touch as Exeter took a seven-point lead into the interval.

The tone was set for the second half when Exeter profited from a loose line-out throw, Don Armand cut a great angle inside the 22 only to be brilliantly hauled down by the brave Umaga near his own five-metre line.

But there was no such reprieve for Wasps 13 minutes after the break when hooker Cowan-Dickie rolled over from a line-out close to Wasps’ line. Steenson’s third successful kick of the day opened a 14-point lead.

With both locks – Will Rowlands and Charlie Matthews – off injured, Wasps’ scrum, that started so strongly, fell apart, culminating in Kieran Brookes being sin-binned and Exeter earning a penalty try from a dominant drive on the hour mark.

Still a man up, Exeter further stretched their lead and secured a bonus point with 13 minutes remaining when O’Flaherty cut a beautiful line to ghost under the posts.

Back to 15 men, Wasps still had no answer to the Chiefs as Hepburn drove over with four minutes remaining to complete an emphatic 38-3 home win.

PA

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