Challenge Cup: Exeter Chiefs 41-17 La Rochelle

Greg Bateman
Greg Bateman scored Exeter's second of six tries against La Rochelle
Exeter Chiefs (27) 41
Tries: Horstmann, Bateman, Vainikolo, penalty try, James, Hughes Pen: Sweeney Cons: Sweeney 4
La Rochelle (3) 17
Tries: Berger, Cestaro Pen: Fortassin Cons: Fortassin, Barraque

Exeter Chiefs won an eighth game in a row, beating La Rochelle to stay top of Pool Two in the European Challenge Cup.

Chiefs led 27-3 at half-time with captain Kai Horstmann, Greg Bateman and Fetu'u Vainikolo going over before the hosts were also awarded a penalty try.

After the break Tom James and Andrew Hughes added to Exeter's advantage.

Tries from Julien Berger and Arthur Cestaro were little consolation for the French visitors, who were also beaten in the reverse fixture last week.

Despite a number of changes made by boss Rob Baxter, the Chiefs eased to victory as La Rochelle struggled to cope with the power and pace in their game.

Horstmann showed good hands to cross for the first try of the game on five minutes, with prop Bateman barging over shortly after from a driving maul.

Fly-half Fabien Fortassin's penalty got La Rochelle on the scoresheet before Exeter's Tongan winger Vainikolo put down after running a good line.

A dominant Chiefs scrum secured a penalty try after the visitors were reduced to 14 men as Kini Murimurivalu was yellow-carded.

After the interval, winger James and centre Hughes crossed from deep-lying runs.

The French team, who currently sit in the relegation places in the Top 14, showed good hands to put in Berger, before Cestaro finished after a well-set driving maul.

Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Vainikolo, Hughes, Whitten, James; Sweeney, Lewis; Sturgess, Bateman, Brown; Lees, Caldwell; Armand, White, Horstmann (capt).

Replacements: Taione, Moon, Rimmer, Welch, Scaysbrook, Thomas, Slade, Naqelevuki.

La Rochelle: Barraque; Cestaro, Alofa, Murimurivalu, Cler; Fortassin, Audy; Corbel, Geledan, Bourrust; Grobler, Nailiko; Guyot, Djebaili (capt), Goujon.

Replacements: Van Vuuren, Pelo, Kaulashvili, Meron, Cedaro, Berger, Gard, Vulivuli.

Attendance: 9,043

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