Challenge Cup: Bayonne 30-24 Exeter Chiefs

Lisiate Fa'aoso
Fa'aoso has won 13 Test caps for Tonga
European Rugby Challenge Cup - Pool Two: Bayonne v Exeter Chiefs
Bayonne (17) 30
Tries: Fonua, Sayerse, Fa'aoso Cons: Loustalot 3 Pen: Loustalot 3
Exeter (16) 24
Tries: Hughes, Rimmer Cons: Sweeney Pens: Sweeney 3, Arnott

Tonga international Lisiate Fa'aoso scored a late try to condemn Exeter to defeat in their opening European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Bayonne.

A converted Adam Hughes try gave Exeter early control but the French side hit back through Opeti Fonua and Pierre Sayerse to lead 17-16 at the break.

Carl Rimmer went over to put the Chiefs back in front and Ceri Sweeney's third penalty extended the lead.

Christophe Loustalot kicked Bayonne to within a point before Fa'aoso won it.

There was less than two minutes remaining when replacement lock Fa'aoso crashed over wide on the left to cap a fine counter-attack, and Bayonne ran the clock down with little difficulty.

Next week's Pool Two fixtures
Fri, 24 Oct: La Rochelle v Bayonne
Sat, 25 Oct: Exeter v Connacht

It was cruel on the Chiefs, who had led for much of the second half and seemed likely to begin their campaign in the secondary tournament of European rugby's new-look competitions with a win.

Head coach Rob Baxter had made 12 changes to the side that beat London Irish in the Premiership last weekend, but Exeter started on the front foot as two Sweeney penalties and a third from Jack Arnott kicked them into a 9-0 lead inside nine minutes.

Loustalot soon reduced the deficit from the tee but Hughes' score and Sweeney's conversion made it 16-3.

Then Bayonne turned the scoreline on its head with tries from Tongan number eight Fonua and left-winger Seyerse - Loustalot converting both.

With home flanker Baptiste Chouzenoux in the sin-bin, Chiefs made their numerical advantage count when Rimmer went over wide on the right, but Sweeney's conversion attempt hit the post.

The home side were down to 13 men when centre Thibault Visensang was also shown the yellow card for killing the ball and Sweeney made him pay with a penalty that hit both posts before dropping over.

Two Loustalot penalties reduced Exeter's lead to 24-23 but the Chiefs looked set to hold on until Fa'aoso capped a handling move which started in the Bayonne half and Loustalot landed the conversion to finish with a personal 15-point haul.

Bayonne: Elissalde; Vaka, Visensang, Ugalde, Sayerse; Otazo, Loustalot; van Rensburg, Arganese, Lapeyrade; Fonua, Taele-Pavihi; Chouzenoux, Ancely, Monribot (capt).

Replacements: Labouyrie, Pointud, Muller, Fa'aoso, Rouet, Duhalde, Bustos Moyano, Chisholm.

Sin Bin: Arganese (36), Chouzenoux (52), Visensang (58)

Exeter: Arnott; Nowell, Hughes, Whitten, James; Sweeney (capt), Thomas; Rimmer, Taione, Low; Lees, Caldwell; Armand, Scaysbrook, Horstmann.

Replacements: Bateman, Sturgess, Brown, Welch, Naqelevuki, Lewis, Steenson, Vainikolo.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

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