Gloucester 17-29 Exeter: Chiefs back in contention with win
Last Updated: 14/12/18 10:30pm
Exeter turned the tables on Gloucester and breathed life into their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a 29-17 victory at Kingsholm.
Gloucester would have gone top of Pool Two had they repeated last Saturday's win against the Chiefs in Devon, but it proved a frustrating night for them.
Fly-half Danny Cipriani went off injured just before half-time, and Exeter's forwards dominated the contest, with lock Sam Skinner, flanker Don Armand, hooker Jack Yeandle and prop Harry Williams scoring tries in a bonus point success.
Cipriani's opposite number Gareth Steenson kicked three conversions and a penalty as Gloucester managed two Jason Woodward touchdowns and a Tom Hudson try, plus a Billy Twelvetrees conversion.
But they also left Munster in pole position for a quarter-final place if they beat French champions Castres on Saturday.
Gloucester and Exeter are not out of the running, yet Munster - they visit Kingsholm next month and have Exeter at home - remain strong group favourites.
It was Exeter's first European win of the season, and said everything about their squad depth as a number of frontline players were absent.
The Chiefs sacrificed a penalty shot in front of the posts, going for an attacking lineout instead, and their endeavour was rewarded with a 21st-minute try.
Gloucester had been in constant defence mode, rarely breaking out of their own half, and Exeter prospered after booting another penalty to touch, with their forwards driving a lineout and Skinner touching down.
Steenson converted from the touchline for a 7-0 lead, and Gloucester then blew their most promising spell of the game when Franco Mostert charged recklessly into a ruck and was penalised by referee Mathieu Raynal.
The hosts then breached Exeter's defence 11 minutes before half-time, driving hard through phase-play, then drawing in Chiefs' tacklers and allowing Woodward to cross unopposed.
Cipriani sent the conversion attempt wide, and he departed just five minutes later, leaving the action after appearing to suffer a problem with his right shoulder.
Cipriani had barely reached the Gloucester bench before Exeter struck again through more impressive work by their forwards, and Armand claimed a try that Steenson converted for a deserved 14-5 interval advantage.
Gloucester needed a strong start to the second period, but they had the opposite, with Twelvetrees being sin-binned for a technical offence as Exeter looked to make their temporary one-man advantage count.
But Gloucester managed not to concede any points while Twelvetrees was off, although they continued to be a distant best in terms of territory and possession.
A Steenson penalty put Exeter 12 points clear, only for Woodward to claim his second try with 15 minutes left and lift Gloucester to within striking range.
But Exeter closed out the game with skipper Yeandle's try - they were also helped by a yellow card for Gloucester prop Josh Hohneck - and Williams' touchdown secured a five-point maximum after Hudson crossed for Gloucester.