Premiership: Exeter Chiefs 24-3 Wasps
|Exeter (7) 24|
|Tries: Woodburn, Dollman, Nowell Cons: Steenson 3 Pen: Steenson|
|Wasps (3) 3|
Exeter Chiefs won comfortably to sneak back in front of Wasps in the battle to claim second place in the Premiership table and earn a home semi-final.
In stretching Wasps' losing record at Sandy Park, Exeter atoned for their European Cup quarter-final defeat earlier this month with three tries.
Winger Olly Woodburn showed great strength down the left for the opener.
Having led 10-3 at the break, Exeter then scored two more second-half tries through Phil Dollman and Jack Nowell.
Full-back Dollman slipped two weak tackles to sail over 'Chris Ashton-style' under the posts before England winger Nowell ran in his first Chiefs try in five months.
Even then, having twice let big leads slip against Wasps this season, there was concern among home ranks that the London-based side might still come back. But the rampant Chiefs finished strongly, their only disappointment being that they failed to get a bonus-point fourth try.
Exeter now in the box seat for second
The Chiefs had two more efforts chalked off by the officials, the second contentiously when it appeared replacement James Short might have beaten Wasps full-back Rob Miller to touch down a kick though from Gareth Steenson, who earned a nine-point haul from three conversions and a first-half penalty.
But it leaves Exeter in the box seat, knowing that if they win against at Harlequins at The Stoop next weekend, then second place will be assured.
On a day when they suffered only a second Premiership loss in 13 games since the turn of the year, following last week's Champions Cup semi-final loss to Saracens, Wasps' only points came from the boot of centre Elliot Daly.
A bonus-point win by the visitors would have ensured a home semi, but they had lost on all six previous trips to Sandy Park and the local form book proved spot on.
For the record . . .
Both clubs had already assured themselves of a top-four finish to claim a place in the Premiership semi-finals.
For Exeter, it is the first time they have made the semis, six seasons after being promoted to the English top flight, while Wasps are in the last four for the first time since winning the Premiership title in 2007-08.
Wasps' only win on Devon soil in competitive rugby remains their Pilkington Cup quarter-final at the old County Ground in February 1995.
The two sides have met three times this season, the first two of which were at the Ricoh Arena. The Chiefs won 41-27 in the Premiership in December, before Wasps made amends three weeks ago by winning 25-24 in the Champions Cup quarter-final. They may now meet again, most likely at Sandy Lane, in the semis.
'Scoreboard doesn't reflect our possession' - Baxter
Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:
"It was important that we kept things in our hands, We put a bit of pressure on the lads this week, saying these are the type of games we have to turn up and perform in at this stage of the year if we genuinely want to look at ourselves as contenders.
"And, right from the start, our work-rate and discipline was fantastic. The scoreboard probably doesn't reflect the actual possession and territory dominance that we actually had.
"We looked like the team that was at home, fully fresh, firing and ready to win a big game at home, and Wasps looked like a team who had just come through a couple of really tough couple of weeks.
"I saw us do it at Gloucester a couple of weeks ago, when we were off enough for us to lose. When I looked at the two teams come in at half-time, I thought we looked like the team that was going to go and win."
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young told BBC Sport:
"Physically and mentally, the last couple of weeks have been pretty draining, but we were determined as a group that we weren't going to use that as an excuse, We want to be up there at the business end of the season with things to play for.
"I am not going to doubt the effort and commitment. If that hadn't been there, we could have had our trousers pulled down, to be quite honest.
"It is a real disappointed dressing room, but the big thing for us is to get our game going. I don't want to be defending for that length of time.
"We've got to change it up a little bit with ball in hand. We're not getting gain-line efficiency. We're not really getting quick ball, which is forcing us into a lot of errors. We only got inside their 22 once."
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Woodburn; Steenson (capt), Chudley; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Lees, Parling, Ewers, Salvi, Armand.
Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Rimmer, Welch, Waldrom, Lewis, Hill, James, Short.
Wasps: C Piutau; Wade, Daly, S Piutau, Halai; Gopperth; Simpson; Mullan, Festuccia, Cittadini, Launchbury, Davies, Haskell (capt), Smith, Hughes.
Replacements: Johnson, Bristow, Swainston, Rowlands, Young, Hampson, Jackson, Miller.
Referee: Matthew Carly (RFU).