The Exeter Chiefs put in an impressive performance to beat Sale Sharks 20-14 in the Gallagher Premiership.
Tries from Ollie Devoto, Don Armand and Sean Lonsdale made sure that they maintain their four point lead at the top of the league table.
The hosts were under pressure throughout and ball retention was an issue during the first half as the visitors spent large periods in the Sharks 22.
Following an early Exeter penalty, Devoto scored the opening try of the afternoon on 21 minutes. This came after a review from the TMO, who adjudged the grounding to be fair.
The Sharks remained under the cosh following the try as they found their backs firmly against the wall.
Exeter continued to attack and often opted for the corner before picking and driving on the Sale line. Armand took advantage and crashed over three minutes before the break to extend the lead.
The home side had to overturn a 15 point deficit in the second half if they were to claim victory in this one. They began the half well, spending time deep in the Exeter half. However, they were unable to take advantage until the mid-point of the second half.
Fly-half, Sam James came to the Sharks’ rescue as he darted over after 63 minutes to reward his sides efforts. His half-back partner added the extras to reduce the gap to eight points.
Exeter weren’t finished though as Sean Lonsdale rounded off the afternoon scoring in the final eight minutes, despite a forward pass – making it 20-7.
Sale used the remaining time to fight for a losing bonus point and they came mightily close as James and replacement scrum-half Will Cliff linked up. Cliff added the extras and they moved within six as they looked for a losing bonus point.
The result wasn’t what the Sharks were looking for, but they’ll try and bounce back when they welcome the Leicester Tigers to the AJ Bell Stadium next Friday night.
Photo credit: Sale Sharks