Exeter Chiefs finish fifth after Sale Sharks victory

Gareth Steenson is dreaming of a Premiership title

Exeter Chiefs will finish the Aviva Premiership in fifth place overall after they ended the season with a 44-16 victory Sale Sharks at Sandy Park.

Ian Whitten’s try and Gareth Steenson’s penalty moved Exeter 8-0 ahead before Sale scored 11 unanswered points through successive Danny Cipriani three-pointers and Josh Beaumont’s touchdown.

Jack Nowell crossed the whitewash to take the West Country outfit back in front at the break and they went through the gears in the second period. Ben White and Beaumont traded scores before Matt Jess (twice), Henry Slade and Byron McGuigan went over for the Chiefs.

However, Saracens’ huge victory over London Welsh and Leicester Tigers’ win against Northampton Saints means the Sandy Park-based side won’t be in the end of season play-offs.

Both these teams had something to play for going into this encounter. While Exeter were obviously looking to seal a play-off berth, Steve Diamond’s men were hoping to qualify for the European Champions Cup.

Although that needed Wasps to lose against London Irish it still led to a tight and tense opening period.

However, it was Exeter who dominated the initial exchanges and deservedly went 3-0 up through Steenson’s penalty.

Rob Baxter’s side then laid siege to the opposition line and, although the forwards couldn’t rumble their way over, it was moved wide to Nowell who fed Whitten to touch down.

The Chiefs couldn’t maintain that momentum and the Sharks grew into the contest as two Cipriani penalties reduced the arrears to 8-6.

Sale were creating problems for the hosts’ defence and a long, looping pass from Tom Arscott allowed Beaumont to finish impressively in the left corner.

It was a setback for the West Country outfit who ideally needed a bonus-point victory but, to their credit, they went back on the front foot and scored a second try through Nowell.

Exeter lifted the intensity after the interval and went over for the third time through White. The Sharks continued to battle and Beaumont crossed for the visitors, but a yellow card for Johnny Leota changed the course of the game.

Jess scored two tries while the centre was off the field to effectively end the match as a contest.

However, with Saracens racking up the tries, Baxter’s men needed more. Slade and McGuigan did touch down, while Mark Cueto – in his final ever professional game – and Ross Harrison were sin-binned and red carded respectively for Sale, but the end result wasn’t enough for Exeter.

Final Score Exeter Chiefs 44 (15) Sale Sharks 16 (11)

Scorers

Exeter Chiefs
Tries – Whitten, Nowell, White, Jess (2), Slade, McGuigan
Pen –
Steenson
Con – Steenson (3)
Drop –

Sale Sharks
Tries – Beaumont (2)
Pen – Cipriani (2)
Con –
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee :Wayne Barnes (155th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank and Roger Baileff.
TMO: Geoff Warren.

Teams

Exeter

15 Jack Nowell, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben White, 6 Don Armand, 5 Mitch Lees, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Max Bodilly, 23 Byron McGuigan.

Sale

15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.

Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mike Haley.

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