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Page last updated at 17:19 GMT, Saturday, 27 November 2010

Exeter 24-19 Sale

Exeter (10) 24
Tries: Budgen, Johnson, Higgins Cons: Davis 3 Pens: Davis

Sale (9) 19
Tries: Crane Cons: Macleod Pens: Macleod 4

Exeter v Sale
Exeter prop Chris Budgen scored the game's opening try

Exeter secured their third consecutive Premiership win as they ran in three tries to defeat Sale at a freezing Sandy Park.

A Chris Budgen try helped the Chiefs into a 10-9 half-time lead, with Nick Macleod kicking all of Sale's points.

Exeter's Tom Johnson touched down after the restart, but Sale promptly hit back with a score from winger Rhys Crane.

A try from Andrew Higgins put Exeter two scores ahead, from where they held on despite late Sale pressure.

In bitter conditions at Sandy Park, Sale struck first with an early Macleod penalty before Davis restored parity with a place kick of his own shortly afterwards.

The game's opening try came on 15 minutes, veteran prop Budgen emerging with the ball after Exeter had produced a superb driving maul from a line-out on 18 metres.


Davis added the conversion and the Chiefs were looking comfortable as they led 10-3.

Sale kept in touch with two further penalties from Macleod, the first a huge kick from 55 metres out that was helped by the strong breeze.

On the stroke of half-time Davis had the chance to extend the lead once again, but his penalty bounced back off the uprights and the half ended with Exeter leading 10-9.

There was no let up in intensity at the start of the second period but the hosts now had the Sandy Park wind behind them and it did not take long for Rob Baxter's men to trouble the scoreboard again.

Flanker Johnson was driven over in the corner after 43 minutes as Exeter's pack again surged forward from an attacking line-out.

However, any hopes of breathing space were short-lived, as Sale responded almost immediately with a try from Crane, the winger cleverly put through to score by England centre Matthew Tait.

Macleod was on target with the conversion, cutting Exeter's lead to just one point once again.

With a barely a moment to pause for breath, the 51st minute saw former Bath winger Higgins cross the whitewash for his first ever try in an Exeter shirt, soothing the frayed nerves of the vociferous home support, as Davis added the crucial conversion.

In a thrilling climax Sale pushed desperately for the win, a late Macleod penalty reducing the deficit to just five points, but the Devon outfit kept their composure to record a fifth Premiership win from nine games.

Exeter Chiefs backs coach Ali Hepher told BBC Radio Devon:
"We grafted real hard for that, we could have made it a little bit easier for ourselves, but all in all we're still delighted.

"We haven't really looked at the long-term, we've got short-term goals to work on, which to be fair the guys have achieved today.

"At the end of the day the league table will sort itself out and we've just got to keep concentrating on making the right decisions and getting wins."

Sale head coach Mike Brewer said:
"We came here with a certain style that we wanted to play which was based on set-piece but the set-piece in general, but the line-out in particular, was dismal.

"That was the reason we couldn't execute what we set out to do and when we did get a little bit of ball in the second half we scored a try and again towards the end of the game when we stretched the play across the field.

"In the first half we turned the ball over too soon, our kick-off receipt was poor, guys getting in the wrong position resulted in really poor performance in the first half and let Exeter in to the game.

"When we scored points we gave the ball straight back to them and we knew that they would target us through the middle where we were a little soft earlier in the season."

Exeter: Arscott; Higgins, Dollman, Shoemark, Sestaret; Davis, Thomas; Sturgess, Alcott, Budgen; Hayes (capt), Hanks; Johnson, Scaysbrook, Baxter.

Replacements: Mieres for Davis (73), Murphy for Sturgess (77), Whitehead for Alcott (64), Tui for Budgen (57).

Sale: Macleod (capt); Crane, Tait, Thornley, Cohen; Miller, Cliff; Imiolek, Jones, Wihongi; Rouse, Cox; Brightwell, Fearns, Boko.

Replacements: Bell for M. Tait (73), M. James for Miller (58), Thomas for Imiolek (56), Ormsby for Cox (44), McMillan for Fearns (44).

Att: 7,171

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

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see also
Injury ends Kimlin's Exeter stint
25 Nov 10 |  Exeter
Exeter 15-9 Leeds
20 Nov 10 |  English
Sale 10-19 Northampton
19 Nov 10 |  English

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ESPN Star Rugby: Chiefs build momentum - 45 hrs ago
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Manchester Evening News Exeter 24 Sale 19 - 51 hrs ago


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