Early Christmas present for Chiefs fans

Mark Stevens's picture
Authored by Mark Stevens
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2018 - 7:59pm

Santa Claus isn't due to deliver for another two days, but the Exeter Chiefs ensured their supporters Christmas came early as they returned to the top of the Gallagher Premiership for the festive period.

Rob Baxter's side produced their best display of the season to not only leapfrog rivals Saracens at the summit, but at the same inflict a first defeat on the Londoners for 22 games.

This was not just a victory, this was an emphatic statement of intent from the Devonians, whose second half display not only yielded maximum reward, but also helped to heal some of the bitter wounds from last May's Premiership Final, when Mark McCall's side denied the Chiefs of reclaiming their top-flight crown.

There is no doubt these two giants of the English game will meet again this season, quite possibly in the end-of-season showpiece once more, but for now the Chiefs can tuck into their turkey safe in the knowledge that this was indeed a significant moment in the season so far.

Undone on home soil for the first time since February last time out by Gloucester, the Chiefs rectified that hiccup by then travelling to Kingsholm just six days later and downing the Cherry & Whites to keep alive their European aspirations.

The thought, however, of losing two successive games at fortess Sandy Park was something that the Chiefs were clearly not entertaining. That has not happened for over two years and Director of Rugby Baxter was determined his side stood up and be counted in the heat of this latest battle.

Although forced to make a last-gasp change to his starting line-up when Jack Yeandle went down with illness, Baxter had the perfect, ready-made replacement in Luke Cowan-Dickie to come into the Exeter front-row and fill the void.

Chiefs 31 Sarries 13

For the full match report, go to: https://www.exeterchiefs.co.uk/news/chiefs-31-sarries-13