Exeter 17-15 Harlequins: Chiefs repel Quins comeback to secure victory
Last Updated: 27/04/19 5:18pm
Gallagher Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs held off a second-half comeback from Harlequins to secure a 17-15 victory at Sandy Park.
The home side made a storming start before finding themselves in a second-half scuffle to secure the full set of match points.
Ollie Devoto opened the Chiefs' account after just 80 seconds and Nic White added their second with 11 minutes on the clock, and that put them on the right track for a 12-3 half-time lead.
The second 40 minutes belonged largely to the visitors. When the Chiefs went down to 14 men, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Charlie Walker crossed, however Rob Baxter's outfit ultimately managed to see out one of their uglier wins of the term.
Rob Baxter: ‘Just given it to the forwards* in the changing room despite the win’.— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) April 27, 2019
* Translation: he wasn’t happy
Exeter commenced like an express train, while their visitors struggled to get sustained time on the ball.
Devoto's opener came as a result of Dave Ewers' break. The flanker charged away on Quins' 10-metre line and, with no defence at home, gave it to his colleague to fly over unopposed from 22 metres.
Simmonds added the extras and, after an intense passage of possession stretching from the halfway line to the Quins' posts, White picked up from a ruck a metre out to tap down.
It was impressive ball retention from the Chiefs, spanning 29 phases, but the Londoners thought they had turned the tables shortly after.
No 8 Alex Dombrandt was put on his way down the touchline by centre Francis Saili. Dombrandt crossed triumphantly, only to be brought back for a foot out of play.
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With Quins enjoying the territorial advantage, they would have been disappointed not to have capitalised on it. Indeed, they had nothing to show for it until the home side infringed at a scrum and Smith knocked over a simple penalty on 40 minutes.
At the start of the second half, Exeter hit Quins with another sucker punch, when a tiny gap appeared, replacement Sam Hill exploited it. He was tackled inside the opposition 22, but his team-mates continued the momentum for Harry Williams to score at a ruck seconds later.
Directly from the restart, replacement hooker Elia Elia kicked on for Harlequins but White won the race as the ball crossed the home line.
Chris Robshaw led Harlequins' pressure on their hosts however they just could not unlock a stubborn home defence.
Just after the hour, the Chiefs lost replacement hooker Ben Moon to the sin-bin for a scrum offence and finally Quins' efforts were rewarded.
Hidalgo-Clyne touched the ball against the base of the post before Smith added the extras. Once that breach had been made, Quins got another in quick time and their scrum-half was involved again.
Hidalgo-Clyne and Smith combined to put speedster Walker over in the corner but the fly-half's conversion attempt went wide.
Smith then missed a 35-metre penalty five minutes from time and league-leaders Exeter ultimately clung on for victory.