Gritty Exeter teach sloppy Gloucester a lesson in tight-five dominance
GLOUCESTER 12 EXETER CHIEFS 29
A COMPREHENSIVE hiding ‘in every facet’, admitted frustrated Gloucester boss Nigel Davies.
Exeter wiped the floor with the Cherry and Whites, grinding their hosts into the Kingsholm turf time and again.
The Chiefs’ relentless tight-five dominance left Gloucester nonplussed and completely battered.
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Gloucester matched Exeter’s two tries, but the visitors’ supremacy in the pack proved the difference.
Nigel Davies’ side conceded 18 penalties, and Gareth Steenson landed five of them off the tee.
Martyn Thomas and replacement Jonny May claimed Gloucester’s tries, with Ben White and Dean Mumm crossing for the Chiefs.
But don’t let that parity on the try front fool you: the Chiefs were in total control from start to finish, with Gloucester unable to find any rhythm.
That’s because Exeter suffocated them, squeezed them off their natural game, and made their scrum and tight power pay big dividend.
Rugby director Davies admitted his side were second-best right across the spectrum at Kingsholm.
He lamented: “We were well-beaten in every facet in fairness.
“And if you’re not going to deal with that side of the game then you’re not going to win.
“We have to front-up, man-up with this group we’ve got, there’s no hiding-places.”
Gloucester produced the stand-out move of the match for the game’s opening try.
But it was their sole piece of conjuring on an afternoon fraught with punishment for Davies’ men.
Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees cut a neat midfield scissors, and sharp full-back Thomas ghosted through the gap for a pleasing score.
The impetus did not last.
Gareth Steenson missed three penalties in the first-half, but still slotted two.
And when Ben White flopped home after Chris Whitehead’s low drive, the Chiefs were in control.
Gloucester escaped without further first-half concession when Hoani Tui was judged short of the line – and then inexplicably received a penalty at the scrum despite being completely under the cosh.
The home side produced strong territorial pressure in the third quarter – but simply could not coax a way through Exeter’s defensive wall.
And when captain Mumm powered home after patient and considered tight build-up from the visitors, the game was lost.
There was still time for May to produce a snapshot score for Gloucester, and for another replacement, Elliott Stooke, to spill the ball trying to dot down for a try.
All of this was consolatory and after the even in any case.
Much work to do, especially with Perpignan and Munster over the Heineken Cup hill.
GLOUCESTER: Tries: M Thomas (20), May (67). Cons: Burns (67).
EXETER: Tries: White (33), Mumm (64). Cons: Steenson 2 (33, 64). Pens: Steenson 5 (18, 30, 44, 74, 79).
EXETER CHIEFS: P Dollman, M Jess, I Whitten, S Hill (H Slade, 68), T James (F Vainikolo, blood 50-54, 78), G Steenson, D Lewis (H Thomas, 53), B Sturgess (C Rimmer, 65), C Whitehead (J Yeandle, 54), H Tui (B Moon, 65), D Mumm (capt), D Welch (D Armand, blood 50-52, 78), T Johnson, B White (K Horstmann, 61), D Ewers.
GLOUCESTER: M Thomas (J May, 65), C Sharples, M Tindall, B Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel, F Burns, T Knoyle (D Robson, 54), Y Thomas (D Murphy, 50), D Dawidiuk (H Edmonds, 65), R Harden (S Knight, 38), T Savage (capt) (E Stooke, 57), J Hudson, S Kalamafoni, M Kvesic (A qera, 57), B Morgan (G Evans, 57).
REFEREE: Matthew Carley.