Exeter v Glasgow: champions launch their defence in style

Warriors old boys Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg both claim tries as Chiefs start their Champions Cup defence in style

Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray both got over for tries against their old club. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray both got over for tries against their old club. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Exeter Chiefs 42

Glasgow Warriors 0

THE sense of inevitability about how this game panned out won’t make it any easier for head coach Danny Wilson or his Glasgow Warriors squad to swallow.

Exeter did what Exeter do to squeeze the life out of Warriors, who can’t be criticised for their attitude – it was a tribute to their determination that they limited the scoring to six unanswered tries – but who just couldn’t get a foothold in the game.

So starved of possession were the visitors that whenever they did manage to get their hands on the ball, they invariably pushed too hard against a defence which wasn’t going to give them any easy outs, and so ended up making life even harder for themselves with costly errors which handed the initiative straight back to the hosts.

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Exeter were as ferocious in defence as they were with ball in hand – from the first minute until the last – leaving the hapless Warriors completely harassed.

“It was very frustrating and very disappointing,” said Warriors head coach Danny Wilson afterwards. “If you give 10 penalties away in the first half against a team that you want to keep out of your 22 then you’re going to kill yourself, which is what we did.

“We were downwind for the first half but we were stuck in our own 22, and for the wrong reason: discipline. That led to the second half going into the wind and they kicked well to pin us back.

“We were chasing the game from inside our 22. I think we had 37% of the territory and you’re not going to challenge the European champions with that while conceding as many penalties as we gave away.”|

This was Exeter’s biggest ever win in the Champions Cup, and it could easily have been more. Apart from a long-range Peter Horne penalty in the second minute which hit the post, Warriors didn’t ever get close to scoring.

Aided by a flurry of unnecessary Warriors penalties – nine inside the first half hour – Exeter soon took a strangle-hold.

Their famous line-out drive thundered over the line twice inside a minute. The first time the ball was held up so referee Mathieu Raynal called play back to an earlier penalty, the second time there was no stopping the home team, with Sam Simmonds getting the downward pressure.

Exeter didn’t show too much behind the scrum during the first half, apart from when Tom O’Flaherty came off his wing to split Glasgow’s defence on an arcing run straight off a scrum. If he’d managed to get the ball away to Stuart Hogg on his outside it would have been a near certain score, but it wasn’t a straight-forward pass so the winger ducked back infield, and the chance slipped by on this occasion.

Having quickly recovered from their early wobble, the home scrum bagan to dominate, earning the penalty on Glasgow’s five-meter line from which Jonny Gray eventually burrowed over to claim his first try for his new club, against his old club.

To compound the damage for Glasgow, they also lost Sam Johnson to the sinbin as the latest offside culprit during the lead-up to that score.

The visitors did well to avoid the loss of any more points during that period at a numerical disadvantage, but the traffic was almost entirely one way.

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The loss of stand-off Pete Horne and hooker George Turner with head injuries inside the space of two minutes just before half-time further complicated matters for the visitors. With Adam Hastings and Fraser Brown ruled out of the match before kick-off, Warriors were effectively down to their third choices in both those key positions – and it showed. Not ideal when you are up against the best team in Europe.

At 0-14 down at half-time, Glasgow probably felt relieved that they were still – theoretically – in touch, but they were now going to have to play the second 40 minutes into the strong wind, and Exeter were unlikely to be profligate after the break as they had been at times before the turnaround.

And so it proved within three minutes of the restart, when a bustling run from Olly Woodburn past Ryan Wilson and Brandon Thomson created the space on the right for Hogg to scoot over for another old-boy’s try against Warriors.

Glasgow did well to batten down the hatches as Exeter turned their screw with their line-out drive, but then shot themselves in the foot when they overthrew a line-out of their own to gift Jack Yeandle the bonus-point try at the tail.

Try number five arrived on 65 minutes when the exceptional Sam Simmonds not only stole the ball from Kiran McDonald on the deck but then found a way to power 15 yards forward to roll Exeter’s attack into gear. Ollie Devoto then sent an inch-perfect grubber in behind for Woodburn to race onto and over the line.

Jonny Hill finished the scoring off in injury time when O’Flaherty broke clear from a very similar ploy to the one he had used so effectively in the first half, and although Warriors got back to snuff out the initial threat, the home cavalry arrived en masse with the replacement second-row blasting over.

Teams –

Exeter Chiefs: S Hogg (H Skinner 68); O Woodburn, H Slade (I Whitten 61), O Devoto, T O’Flaherty; J Simmonds, J Maunder (S Hidalgo-Clyne 56); A Hepburn (B Moon 57), J Yeandle (L Cowan-Dickie 57), H Williams (M Street 57), J Gray, S Skinner (J Hill 61), D Ewers (R Capstick 68), J Kirsten, S Simmonds.

Glasgow Warriors: G Bryce; T Seymour (L Jones 76), N Grigg, R S Johnson, L Jones (H Jones 56); P Horne (B Thomson 36), A Price (J Dobbie 61); O Kebble (A Seiuli 56), G Turner (G Stewart 38) , Z Fagerson (E Pieretto 69), R Harley (H Bain 76), S Cummings,  K McDonald, M Fagerson, R Wilson ( T Ioane 65).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France).


Scorers –

Exeter Chiefs: Try: S Simmonds, Gray, Hogg, Yeandle, Woodburn, Hill; Con: J Simmonds 5.

Glasgow Warriors: 

Scoring sequence (Exeter first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0 (h-t) 19-0; 21-0; 26-0; 28-0; 33-0; 35-0; 40-0; 42-0.
Yellow cards –

Glasgow Warriors: Johnson

Story of the ‘Exe Men’ points the way to making professional rugby work


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  1. Comparisons with Ireland are to a degree unfair. Smaller population – yes. competitive professional sports – no. We will always play second fiddle to football so talented youngsters who want to be paid for playing sport have 2 choices and football pays more. In Ireland its Rugby only (at least in the South). having said that the Irish have done an amazing job with their academies and in getting Rugby accepted as a true national sport. Unless the 2 teams perform in Europe – and Edinburgh look much more likely to do so than Glasgow we will continue to lose players. It will be very tough to hang on to Watson and Ritchie when their contracts expire next Summer.

  2. I wondered whether the £20m government injection will see the SRU’s recruitment freeze lifter, but realise this’ll just mean more mediocre foreigners coming in, plastering over the main issue of our young player pathway clearly being inadequate.

    Is it too much to ask for a fact-finding project on how young players are developed at clubs like Exeter or in places like Ireland (or even Japan) and take inspiration from them? No doubt there are lots of reasons why we can’t do things like for like, but there must be numerous ways in which the development of young players can be improved.

  3. Nilled by a form side. Playing with a near to full strength side ourselves, and we have no response. Players that changed games for us are gone.

    We are at best, a mediocre side, with a rather frightening future ahead of us. Exeter are the new Saracens. Lots of money, seasoned internationals abound and limitless possibilities. By comparison, Glasgow are looking like heading for the bin. Wilson does need a chance, but based upon that performance we have some bigger problems.

    1. We have no pipeline of development talent (FOSROC is a joke)
    2. We have let go any talent we did have to France or England.
    3. We are funding a team in America who are absolutely guff, and rugby will never catch on in America. The NFL, Basketball and Baseball are too powerful culturally speaking.
    4. I cannot put my hand to a clear strategy by the SRU. Its all smoke and mirrors with no detail or measurable metrics by which they can be held accountable financially or competitively. They cant even publish their accounts correctly.

    By comparison, if you look at a similar profile in Ireland.

    1. Relatively same population size as Scotland.
    2. 4 provinces, but realistically two that produce the main core of the international side
    3. A clear strategy for developing and keeping young talent in the country
    4. Pro teams that can, and do produce multiple sides that win games, and championships even when there are test matches on.

    What’s the difference?

    The IRFU work with the pro teams to ensure that rugby is a focus within the country at a political and social/community level. They invest in their sport at its core, and reap the rewards of that talent staircase.

    • I think it is insulting to call Exeter the new Saracens. Exeter have gained their success by hard work and ability not by cheating.

      Other than that I agree with the post.

  4. Surely glasgow must start with Huw Jones, clearly far to good to waste on the bench. Also is there any flyhalfs in Scotland the same level or better than Thompson?

  5. I’m getting really fed up of losing. OK this was always a tough ask without Hastings but we do make things difficult for ourselves. Lets take the positives , the guys fronted up well, scrummaged well , Zander at the breakdown is a thing of beauty, no one has really come up with an answer for Exeter scoring from 5 metre lines outs and general line assaults nor did we, but there was some really good defence that said, and we coped with them being camped in our half most of the 2nd half. The negatives ,Horne Snr is not a 10 , he is a very good 12/13 particularly in defence , Thomson is just rubbish end off, we have a good group of centre parings in Johnson, Horne , Grigg and Jones but the wings are a bit light weight at the moment, we need a big 4/5 like La Rochelle’s Skelton and a big 8 to be the new Strauss,or even a Vunipola but we need a proper 10. Just watched the highlights from the 2018 win the speed and the support running were a joy to watch , that team out there today is a shadow of the old Glasgow and for that I think the coach has to take the blame . Exeter have gone forward thanks to a lot of help from Ex-Glasgow players but we have gone backwards.

  6. It’s a sad reflection when the sub heading takes the reflective glory of a pair of former Warriors players scoring against their old side. Mind you that is not a sad reflection on the editorial staff at the offside line, it rather reflects on the mismanagement of the funds available to the SRU and how they are distributed.
    Would the monies gifted to overseas clubs have retained Hogg or Gray?
    Who knows but one thing is obvious Scottish Rugby can not afford to mismanage such funds as it has with ill thought out ideas and plans.

    • Between them, Glasgow & Edinburgh spent £11.6m more than they earned last season.

      Whilst the “investment” in Old Glory is certainly strange, I’d be against spending any further cash in either pro team – we simply can’t afford it.

      Time to accept that when it comes to Pro rugby, we can’t compete with France, England or Ireland.

      • Pegj regarding your comment on losses at the two professional clubs.
        If I may suggest that due diligence would have been able to assess with reasonable accuracy, that attendance levels would mean that they would be making a loss in any event.
        In respect of that then it is all the more reason to be prudent with the monies that are available and with that clearly to the fore it must be suggested that support outside of the participation of Clubs either professional or amateur in Scotland is an indulgence that we can’t afford.
        I am sure this will not be popular but I would go further, personally don’t think that support for some of the fringe areas of rugby football ‘demand’ support in order to keep pace with a society that regardless of the ‘value’ insist on supporting areas that arrive through a misguided demand for an equality that frankly it doesn’t deserve in financial terms. The priorities are the National Team XV’s and 7’s, the Professional Teams and all levels of club rugby, however it should be the Men’s game in Scotland that should take priority, anything else should be looked at with forensic fervour.
        I know that my opinion will not be popular in some quarters, however in many aspects it is the Elephant in the room, but it is an indulgence we can’t afford as things are at the moment. Mind you if the game had remained an amateur game many of these problems wouldn’t have arisen, but that is another unpopular view that I hold.
        As a final thought the number of Suits in Murrayfield and their performance with specific questions as to why off field performance seems to attract a ‘win bonus’ would be a good place to start, especially after we have seen the accounts in detail.

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