European Rugby Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs 19-27 Gloucester

Gloucester celebrate
Gloucester are top of Pool 2 after beating Exeter
European Rugby Champions Cup: Exeter v Gloucester
Exeter: 19 (5)
Tries: Armand, White, Lawday Cons: Steenson 2
Gloucester 27 (10)
Tries: Heinz, Visagie, Morgan Cons: Cipriani 2, Twelvetrees Pens: Cipriani 2

Gloucester all but ended Exeter's hopes of progressing in the Champions Cup as they won a testing match at Sandy Park.

Don Armand's early score was cancelled out by a Willi Heinz try before Danny Cipriani's late first-half penalty.

Nic White darted over in the opening minute to put the Chiefs ahead, before a second Cipriani penalty.

Jaco Visagie's try put Gloucester out of sight and Ben Morgan polished off the win before a late Tom Lawday try for Exeter.

The result means Gloucester lead Pool 2 by a point before Munster's match against Castres in Limerick on Sunday - whichever side wins that encounter will move to the summit of the group at the midway point.

Exeter looked a shadow of the side that has dominated the Premiership this season as an error-strewn performance means they need to win all their remaining games - which include trips to Ireland and Gloucester - and hope other results go their way.

Gloucester weather early storm

After an impressive start to the game Exeter struggled to assert themselves in the opening period.

Their try from Armand came after two good line breaks by Ben Moon and Santiago Cordero, but apart from that Exeter were kept quiet by a good Gloucester defence.

The visitors levelled as impressive young winger Ollie Thorley broke through the Exeter line from inside his own 22 - he almost went over himself but for a try-saving tackle by Alex Cuthbert, but Heinz was there to convert.

But as a huge downpour hit Sandy Park, it was Gloucester who made the better of the tricky conditions.

The visitors twice had good position deep in Exeter territory in the final 10 minutes, but only came away with a 39th-minute Cirpriani penalty after some dogged defending.

Exeter go out with a whimper

Who knows what a far-from-happy Exeter coaching staff said to their side at half-time, but it certainly galvanised their players early on as White scampered and jinked his way over from 25m out.

A Cipriani penalty soon after put the Cherry and Whites back in front by a point.

Exeter were left frustrated as a number of chances deep in Gloucester territory went begging - Greg Holmes having the best opportunity as he knocked on three metres out.

Gloucester took control with 20 minutes to go as another superb break from Thorley set up the field position which led to Visagie forcing his way over on his first start for the club.

An inspired Gloucester - who lost 23-6 at Sandy Park 14 days earlier - sealed victory when Ben Morgan crossed in the corner after a sustained period of pressure before young back row Tom Lawday got a consolation for the home side following a late rolling maul.

Star man - Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)

Ollie Thorley
Thorley set up two of Gloucester's tries

He might only be 22 but the former England youth international is starting to make a real name for himself.

The winger set up two of his side's tries with excellent defence-splitting runs - having scored a try in a similar vein against Leicester in the league.

With the powerful Matt Banahan on the other wing, Johan Ackermann's side have a great blend of force and finesse on their flanks.

What they said

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Sport: "Great credit to Gloucester, we know this is a difficult place to come and play, conditions were difficult, and individually and collectively I thought they outplayed us today.

"There were so many moments when we as coaches were watching and asking 'what are we trying to achieve?', that that's probably the big question.

"Whether as a group we just aren't mentally getting our head around the Heineken Cup thing quite yet, whether we've convinced ourselves that things have to be so different, that it's actually making us quite inefficient as a team."

Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann told BBC Sport: "Today our patience was much better than a few weeks ago, and to be fairly honest today a few things went our way where maybe last time we were here we were not accurate.

"We matched them in the territory part, where normally they win that, so that was crucial for us.

"For the majority of the game, until the last bits, our set phase was good and if your set phase is not going to be good against Exeter you're going to be under pressure."

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