Premiership: Exeter Chiefs 44-16 Sale Sharks

Matt Jess
Matt Jess has been with Exeter Chiefs since 2008
Aviva Premiership
Exeter (15) 44
Tries: Jess 2, Whitten, Nowell, White, Slade, McGuigan Pens: Steenson Cons: Steenson 3
Sale (11) 16
Tries: Beaumont 2 Pens: Cipriani 2

Exeter Chiefs missed out on a first ever Premiership play-off place despite an impressive win over Sale Sharks.

Chiefs led 15-11 at the break thanks to tries from Ian Whitten and Jack Nowell, Josh Beaumont replying for Sale.

After Exeter's Ben White and Beaumont exchanged tries, Matt Jess crossed twice and Henry Slade scored while Sale's Johnny Leota was in the sin-bin.

A seventh try came from Byron McGuigan, but Exeter missed out, finishing fifth behind Saracens on points difference.

Rob Baxter's side started the day in fourth place, ahead of Sarries on points difference but the Londoners' 68-17 win over London Welsh saw them overhaul that deficit.

Right from the kick-off Exeter applied pressure, with Sale forced into conceding an early penalty, kicked by Gareth Steenson, before they added further points with a try.

Unhappy ending for Sale duo
Sale's Mark Cueto and Nathan Hines tasted defeat in their final games for the Sharks.

After strong rucking from the forwards the ball was switched out wide and Nowell found Whitten to slide in at the corner.

Having sustained 10 minutes of pressure, Sale responded well with Danny Cipriani adding two penalties before Beaumont received a looping pass and beat Nowell for pace to complete an excellent finish.

Nowell atoned for his error almost immediately. Despite playing full-back he found himself in the more familiar position of the wing to step inside and touch down for a half-time advantage.

White powered his way over the line after half-time before Beaumont collected a looping pass to score his second try of the game and make it 22-16.

Leota then saw yellow for a high tackle and Sale unravelled, allowing Exeter to run in 22 points without response.

Jess made the extra man count, running in two tries, but Steenson could not add the conversions in the windy conditions.

Slade then got over the line for the hosts' sixth try before indiscipline saw Sale's Mark Cueto - playing his final game - sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

He was followed into the bin by Exeter's Alex Brown following an altercation with Sale's Ross Harrison, who was sent off for throwing a punch.

McGuigan added another try against Sale's 13 men but it was not enough for the Chiefs.

Gareth Steenson
Gareth Steenson celebrates Ian Whitten's opening try for Exeter Chiefs

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter:

"To be fair to Sale, they had a lot to play for as well but I thought we handled most of that very well.

"From where I was sat, with 20 minutes to go, it was pretty exciting and we were just about ahead but things got away from us elsewhere .

For me it has been a great season having taken some great steps forward in our consistency and the big foundation for that has been our home form."

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:

"It was a great performance by Exeter Chiefs and they wanted it more in the second half.

"We just couldn't stay in it in that period and ill-discipline cost us with the two yellows and a red."

Exeter: Nowell; Whitten, Slade, Hill, Jess; Steenson, Chudley; Moon, L. Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Mumm, Lees, Armand, White, Waldrom.

Replacements: Bodilly, McGuigan, Lewis, Rimmer, Yeandle, Cowan-Dickie, Brown, Welch, Horstmann.

Sin Bin: Brown (76).

Sale: Arscott; Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; Cipriani, Cusiter; Lewis-Roberts, Taylor, V. Cobilas, Mills, Hines, Braid, Seymour, Beaumont.

Replacements: Haley, Ford, Harrison, Jones, Parker, Paterson, Easter, Cliff.

Sin Bin: Leota (53), Cueto (70).

Sent Off: Harrison (76).

Att: 12,500

Ref: Wayne Barnes (RFU).

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