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Exeter go top with bonus-point win at Bristol

Exeter go top with bonus-point win at Bristol

Stu Townsend scored Exeter’s third try justbefore being sent to the sin bin
Bristol:(14) 14
Tries: Oghre, Heward Cons: Sheedy 2
Exeter:(12) 24
Tries: Iosefa-Scott, Feyi-Waboso, Townsend, Vermeulen Cons: Slade 2

Exeter moved top of the Premiership with a rare bonus-point win on the road as they prevailed 24-14 at Bristol.

Tries from Josh Iosefa-Scott and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso twice had Chiefs ahead but Gabriel Oghre and Noah Heward replied in a see-saw first half.

Stu Townsend put Exeter back in front on the resumption and Jacques Vermeulen wrapped up the bonus point late on.

Exeter’s seventh win of the campaign lifts them above Bath at the summit ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.

Rob Baxter made changes to the Exeter side that beat Leicester last weekend with try-scorers Iosefa-Scott, Feyi-Waboso and Townsend among those returning to the starting 15 for only the Chiefs’ second win on the road since October 2022.

The game took place in front of a bumper crowd of more than 24,257 inside Ashton Gate, the largest attendance for a Bears match for more than three years, but it was the visiting fans who were celebrating first during a first 40 minutes that saw the lead switch back and forth.

Exeter off-loaded quickly from a five-metre line-out, moving the ball swiftly to set up Iosefa-Scott to drive over from close range, Henry Slade adding the extras.

Bristol instantly retaliated with their own try following a line-out, hooker Oghre powering through the Exeter defence and Callum Sheedy’s conversion levelling the scores.

An excellent team try saw Exeter go back in front after Ollie Woodburn made the crucial line break, the ball spread out wide for Feyi-Waboso to touch down in the right corner.

But Heward sprinted through a narrow gap down the right touchline before acrobatically diving over in the corner, Sheedy converting to give Bristol a slender two-point half-time lead.

The Bears were left to rue a poor catch from the second-half restart however, gifting Exeter possession. While Feyi-Waboso’s impressive 30-yard run was stopped inches from the tryline, scrum-half Townsend was on hand to touch down from close range.

The winning margin could and should have been higher for Exeter as Slade missed his second conversion right before Townsend was sent to the bin for a deliberate knock-on.

The Chiefs were awarded a second penalty in front of the posts for a certain three points, but chose to go for the tap failed to convert the chance.

They eventually made their pressure pay five minutes from time as replacement Vermeulen barged his way over to secure all five points and nudge Exeter ahead of Bath at the top by a point.

Bristol: Malins, Heward, Vakatawa, Janse van Rensburg, Lane, Sheedy, Randall; Lahiff, Oghre, Sinckler, Dun, Batley, Luatua (c), Thomas, Bradbury.

Replacements: Capon, Woolmore, Kloska, Caulfield, Owen, Marmion, Williams, Ravouvou.

Exeter: Hammersley, Feyi-Waboso, Slade, Devoto, Woodburn, Skinner, Townsend; Abuladze, Frost, Iosefa-Scott, Tuima, Jenkins (c), Roots, Vintcent, Fisilau.

Replacements: Norey, Hepburn, Street, Pearson, Vermeulen, Cairns, Hawkins, Wimbush.

Sin bin: Stu Townsend (45 mins)

Referee: Christophe Ridley

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