Exeter v Glasgow: Warriors brought down to earth with a bump by rampant Chiefs

Danny Wilson's side must bounce back next weekend when they host La Rochelle in their final Champions Cup pool match of the season

Stuart Hogg celebrates with Exeter's hat-trick hero Tom O'Flaherty. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Stuart Hogg celebrates with Exeter's hat-trick hero Tom O'Flaherty. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Exeter Chiefs 52

Glasgow Warriors 17

THIS was a painful reality check. Glasgow Warriors had travelled to Sandy Park full of confidence following their 22-7 win over these same opponents at Scotstoun last month, but were brought back down to earth with a painful bump as Exeter Chiefs upped their intensity to a level the away team simply could not cope with. 

If Danny Wilson‘s side can draw any consolation from this match it is that they didn’t lose by more, because they were completely overwhelmed for most of the second half. How much this mauling has wrecked the self-belief which had developed in the squad during the last month will become apparent when they host La Rochelle next week, in a match they are going to have to win if they want to progress to the last 16 of the Champions Cup this season.

“On 50 minutes we were in the lead at 17-14 and then it was a complete collapse from us,” reflected Wilson afterwards. “I’m not going to take anything away from Exeter – their performance was excellent, and they showed how ruthless and clinical they are.

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“But I don’t know how many entries we gave them into our 22 from errors and penalties. Against this type of opposition, you are always going to get hurt if you perform a like that.”

Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said his team’s performance was a statement of intent after a patchy start to the season.

“It felt like the old Exeter Chiefs,” he explained. “We’ve gone back to our basics and built a bit of confidence. We’ve gone back to our base DNA and have talked about being ourselves a little more.

“The game plan is a lot simpler, and simple doesn’t mean easy, it means this is the As, Bs and Cs and we need to work really hard at those things, which has improved our results.

“That game in Glasgow was probably a bad thing for them because it allowed them to potentially maybe over-estimate their performance and under-estimate how poor we were. Because on the day, we didn’t rally fire a shot. Yes, there was good pressure from Glasgow but we didn’t do very much, and that was the thing which really irked us, and that’s what we wanted to put right before getting a bonus-point win today.”

After a lively start, Warriors snatched a seventh minute lead through a Ross Thompson penalty, but Exeter bounced back with a well-worked try scored by winger Tom O’Flaherty, which was followed up in quick-order with a Sam Simmonds try off the back of a close-range line-out drive.

Warriors hung in there and they pulled themselves back into the match when Kiran McDonald sensed a gap at the side of the ruck and propelled himself over, with Thompson’s conversion leaving the game delicately balanced at 14-10 at the break.


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The visitors snatched the lead early in the second half when a slick passage of play culminated in Matt Fagerson burrowing over – but rather than being a catalyst for the visitors this was decisive moment because it nudged Chiefs into overdrive.

Sam Simmonds and O’Flaherty each crossed for their second tries of the night, and when Luke Cowan-Dickie claimed Exeter’s fifth try to make it 33-17, there was still a quarter of the match to go. Never mind a win which would make the rest of Europe sit up and take notice – it was nowa exercise in damage limitation.

Exeter’s scrum was well on top, and it was from this source that O’Flaherty claimed his hat-trick, stepping inside Thompson and carrying both Duncan Weir and Kyle Steyn over the line.

Then some neat play in midfield by Henry Slade sent Jack Nowell in for try number seven, and when Steyn got himself penalised for being in front of the kicker at the restart, it gifted Chiefs a chance to streak back up-field, with Dave Ewars muscling over in the last play to bring up the half century.


Teams –

Exeter Chiefs: S Hogg; J Nowell, H Slade, I Whitten (T Hendrickson 64), T O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (H Skinner 73), J Maunder (S Maunder 67); B Moon (J Kenny 66), L Cowan-Dickie (J Innard 73), J Iosefa-Scott (P Schickerling 46), S Skinner, S Lonsdale, D Ewers, J Kirsten (D Jenkins 72), S Simmonds (D Armand 72).

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; K Steyn, S Tuipulotu (D Weir 63), S Johnson, C Forbes (S Cancelliere 53); R Thompson, A Price (v 61); J Bhatti (O Kebble 59), G Turner (F Brown 41), Z Fagerson (E Pieretto 64), S Cummings, K McDonald (L Bean 72), M Fagerson, R Darge (R Wilson 57), J Dempsey.

Referee: Romain Poite


Scorers –

Exeter Chiefs: Tries: O’Flaherty 3, S Simmonds 2, Cowan-Dickie, Nowell, Ewars; Cons: S Simmonds 4, Slade 2.

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: McDonald, Fagerson; Cons: Thompson 2; Pen: Thompson.

Scoring sequence (Exeter Chiefs first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 12-3; 14-3; 14-8; 14-10 (h-t) 14-15; 14-17; 19-17; 21-17; 26-17; 28-17; 33-17; 38-17; 43-17; 45-17; 50-17; 52-17.

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  1. As others have said, there’s no shame in losing to a fired-up Exeter at Sandy Park. But the second half capitulation was just abject. We just seemed to lack real leadership. Shades of the recent dismal displays away to Benetton for me.

  2. Don’t think all the focus should be on Ross for this chastening defeat. He is a young promising player and developing well. He ended up at full back anyway during the game. There were a number of factors that led to the thrashing in the 2nd half.
    – the forwards defence of the maul seemed to fall apart
    – our scrum seemed to deteriorate
    – we gave away a few dumb penalties
    – we made too many basic mistakes – knock ons mainly
    – the backs defence collapsed in the last 30
    – some poor box kicks gave the ball easily back to Exeter.

    I am trying to convince myself that it was just a bad day at the office when a lot of things went wrong at once – how else can you lose 38 points in 30 minutes. Sometimes in sport these things happen. I hope this weeks game against La Rochelle will prove me right

  3. Ross Thomson is 22, same age as Marcus Smith and Romain Ntamack – sadly no comparison.Ross would probably still be playing super 6 if it wasn’t for last season’s disruptions.
    Since Dan Parks days only Duncy Weir has been capable of managing games. Warriors have gone for the “maverick” Finn Russell type of player – Adam Hastings and now Ross. Someone needs to coach him game management or else Warriors will not progress as a team.

  4. Lot of feeling before the game was if we were within a score going in to the last quarter then we had a great chance to win as the perception was our bench was stronger. Turns out our bench wasnt stronger and our two co-captains coming on didnt help the leadership on the pitch. The backline didnt work after Tuipulotu went off. We started chasing the game and just imploded. Feels like this might be a watershed at the club with some of the experienced guys like Wilson, Harley, Brown, Weir approaching the end of their pro careers.

  5. The only consolation was the form of Hogg. He is looking at his very best, which he can hopefully deliver in the 6 Nations. Glasgow just gave up in the last 30 minutes, too many times Glasgow under Wilson have flattered to deceive. The last 30 minutes was shameful.

  6. Clearly the last 30 was not great but what went before saw some very good stuff. Seemed like the loss of Tuipulotu and the resulting reshuffle really messed with the defence structure. (Similar to Edinburgh – the loss of Moyano led to a bigger reshuffle after which their attack seemed blunted.) The back row were very good with Dempsey looking more and more like GT’s 8 for 2023?

  7. Hard to look at that scoreline and see any positives but after Darges performance, Hamish’s 6 nation coat might be on a shoogly peg. Zander made some hard yards but can always be relied upon to leak penalties. George Turner always seems to outshine Fraser Brown these days.
    Hope Hogg can carry his Exeter form into 6 Nations.

    • Why on earth was Darge taken off so early, when he was playing so well? You are right about Turner and Brown. The line-out faltered when Brown came on.

  8. No shame in losing to a fired up Exeter at home if you make them work for it, but the manner of that capitulation in the last 30 was a shocker…..

    It maybe the number of newbies, but we need to take a leaf out of Exeter’s book and remember what we are about…

    “Whatever it takes…”

    Need to show that we can grow from this.

  9. Im still in shock after that last 30 minutes. How could we go from playing well and leading in the game to conceding 38 points to zero in half an hour. It was a complete capitulation and here was me thinking we were proper European contenders – no way I’m afraid. There something mentally that Glasgow seem to struggle with in their decision making. As Wilson says we allowed them far too many easy entries into our 22 from stupid penalties. But even having allowed them into our 22 I’ve never seen our defence so flimsy. Some of their tries were far too easy – our defence in the backs just evaporated in that last part of the game. After Tuipuloto left the backs were shocking and the forwards fell off the game. We threw in the towel which is the most disappointing thing. The confidence will have taken a battering after that.

    Before the collapse I thought Darge and the rest of the back row were good. The half backs not so great. Price was mixed but had a couple of knock ons at the base and when Horne came on he kicked straight into touch with his first box kick. George is good in a fast game when we are on top but not so when he has to box kick. Our kicking generally was not as good as theirs with very few contestable kicks.

    A chance to redeem ourselves next week but we will somehow need to rediscover the form of our first game against Exeter.

    • Some good points there Ross. I think Thomson still lacks the maturity and leadership qualities required of a10nat this level. Not convinced by Price as a captain. The conversation at half time was about playing territory which builds pressure. After going ahead 17-14 we need smart leadership and I just don’t think we have it in the side.

      • Price was fine, Horne yet again showed why he doesn’t start. No ability to manage a game whatsoever, Thomson I agree and needs to be rested and rotated but Glasgow lack a viable alternative in attack
        However 14 kicks from hand these days is ludicrously low, especially when we remember how Glasgow bullied Exeter at Scotstoun – put them under pressure and keep them under pressure, so totally agree about that

        But the collapse was inexplicable and not acceptable, and if that means some old hands moving on so be it, and some fan favourites like Horne and Thompson, even Forbes being given some time to think about what they are doing, ditto

        Glasgow have a good side, it needs to man up during every game though, not after it


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