Exeter Chiefs book Championship final spot

Exeter Chiefs booked their place in the RFU Championship final with a five-try 37-8 demolition of Bedford Blues at Sandy Park.

A 76-second try from Mark Foster was followed by touchdowns from Brett Sturgess, Honai Tui, Bryan Rennie and Paul McKenzie as the Chiefs moved a step nearer promotion to the Guinness Premiership.

Exeter now host Bristol on Wednesday, May 19 before heading to the Memorial Stadium for the second leg seven days later.

It took the Chiefs just over a minute to get on the scoresheet when Gareth Steenson’s crossfield kick fell perfectly for Mark Foster and the former Gloucester wing ran in unopposed.

Steenson converted from the touchline and by the 10th minute Exeter were 12-0 up with Brett Sturgess muscling his way over in the corner.

Myles Dorrian pulled back three points for the Blues with a penalty but it failed to stem the dark blue tide, tighthead prop Tui burrowing over after the Exeter pack had the Bedford scrum backpedalling.

Fly-half Steenson almost pulled off a copycat crossfield move five minutes before halftime but the ball just squirmed into touch before Nic Sestaret could get to it. However, the No 10 stretched the lead to 25-3 at the break with a penalty in front of the posts.

Rennie brought up the 30 point mark when he was put away in the corner by Neil Clark after Foster’s initial break just two minutes into the second half.

Bedford valiantly chased the tries and were rewarded with Ian Davey’s late score but McKenzie wrapped up matters and time ran out for the visitors, who had Luke Fielden stretchered off in a neck brace.


RFU Championship final


1st leg – Wednesday, May 19, Sandy Park (7.45): Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Rugby


2nd leg – Wednesday, May 26, Memorial Stadium (7.45): Bristol Rugby v Exeter Chiefs

Final Score Exeter Chiefs 37 Bedford Blues 8


Exeter Chiefs
Tries – Foster, Sturgess, Tui, Rennie, McKenzie
Pens – Steenson (2)
Cons – Steenson (2), Gray

Bedford Blues
Try – Davey;
Pen – Dorrian
Yellow card: Walsh 47-57

Referee: T Wigglesworth (RFU)

Att: 4549


Exeter Chiefs: P Dollman, M Jess, N Sestaret, B Rennie, M Foster; G Steenson, H Thomas; B Sturgess, N Clark, H Tui, T Hayes (capt), J Hanks, C Slade, J Scaysbrook, T Johnson. Reps: C Stuart-Smith (bld rep H Thomas 18-25 & 64), S Alcott, C Budgen (rep Tui 53), R Baxter (rep Johnson 53), P McKenzie (rep Rennie 58), D Gammon (rep Hanks 64), D Gray (rep Steenson 73).

Bedford Blues: L Fielden; O Dodge, B Burke, I Vass, D Taylor; M Dorrian, W Chudley; S Walsh D Richmond (capt), D Seal, M Howard, A Rae, G Gillanders, S Harding, C Goodman. Reps: I Davey (rep Dodge 44), P Boulton (rep Davey 47-57 & Seal 58), J Harlock (rep Rae 56), C Brightwell (rep Harding 56), N Walshe (rep Chudley 56), C Locke (rep Richmond 68), B Davies (rep Vass 68), Vasss (rep Fielden 80).

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