Premiership: Gloucester 13-16 Exeter Chiefs – Exeter come from behind to win

Exeter try scorer Will Witty
Will Witty (right) came up with Exeter’s decisive second try at Gloucester
Gloucester (13) 13
Try: Singleton Con: Hastings Pens: Hastings 2
Exeter (6) 16
Tries: Hepburn, Witty Pens: Skinner 2

Exeter launched a second-half fightback and then survived a late Gloucester assault to win 16-13 at Kingsholm.

Chiefs took an early six-point lead through two Harvey Skinner penalties.

Gloucester hooker Jack Singleton brought his side back into it with a try from a driving maul and two Adam Hastings penalties made it 13-6.

Alec Hepburn edged Exeter to within two points shortly after half-time before Will Witty bundled over for the vital score with 12 minutes to go.

Gloucester came into the match on the back of a four-game unbeaten run. However, for the first 10 minutes they were the makers of their own downfall, conceding four penalties.

Skinner kicked two to put the visitors 6-0 ahead and could have had a third from inside his own half, but it fell short by a few metres.

That seemed to be Gloucester’s wake-up call and as the Cherry and Whites won their first scrum, Billy Twelvetrees made a break and secured a penalty which Hastings kicked to touch.

Gloucester’s driving maul had proved effective so far this season and again it was the case. At the third time of asking from a line-out, Gloucester set up a maul and got their just rewards through a Singleton try – his second of the season, which Hastings converted to put Gloucester 7-6 ahead.

Gloucester effectively contained Exeter within their own half for the remainder of the first 40.

Scrum-half Ben Meehan almost made it over the line, getting on the end of a Louis Rees-Zammit dart down the nearside touchline, before Exeter were caught offside and Hastings kicked Gloucester further ahead.

The Scotsman, back in the starting line-up after coming off the bench in the last two matches, kicked his second penalty shortly after to make it 13-6.

When Exeter did manage to get inside the Gloucester half and break with ball in hand, both Jack Nowell and Jack Maunder were pushed into touch in the nearside corner, as the Gloucester defence held strong.

Exeter made seven changes to the side that lost to London Irish the week before, and it was Hepburn, brought back in at prop, who got Chiefs back within two points.

Gloucester conceded a penalty in midfield, Stuart Hogg cut loose down the far side and Hepburn eventually crossed from short range.

Skinner, in at fly-half ahead of Joe Simmonds, missed the conversion and the chance to put Exeter back in front. He subsequently left another six points on the field with two more missed penalties.

But when Chiefs full-back Hogg sent an innocuous-looking kick down the pitch, Rees-Zammit knocked on to hand Exeter a scrum on Gloucester’s five-metre line.

Second row Witty eventually crossed after a series of pick-and-go phases to edge them ahead and secure their fourth win of the season.

Gloucester head coach George Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:

“I thought we were really good in the first half. I thought we were clinical and we had it in our grips.

“We knew they’d come back in the second half, it wasn’t like we were going to run away with it. But the boys worked really hard, I thought the defence was outstanding, Dom’s (Waldouck – defence coach) work was coming really good and strong as it has the last few weeks.

“I can’t fault them for how hard they worked, but we need to be a bit more clinical.

“There were some moments where lots of opportunities we were close to scoring, which sometimes go your way, sometimes don’t. But I just thought there was a few clunky moments, probably a little bit of pressure where we knew we needed to execute a few bits to get hold of the game, and we didn’t quite do it.”

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:

“I don’t want to rip the game to pieces and try and create a perfect game of rugby out there.

“It wasn’t about that today. It was about motion and energy and fight and staying in there and just competing to the end, and we did all that.

“If you do those things you have a chance to win and today we took it.”

Gloucester: Woodward; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Twelvetrees, Carreras; Hastings, Meehan; Rapava-Ruskin, Singleton, Balmain, Clarke, Davidson, Ackermann, Ludlow (capt), Morgan.

Replacements: Socino, Elrington, Gotovtsev, Thomas, Clement, Chapman, Evans, Moyle.

Exeter: Hogg; Nowell, Hendrickson, Devoto, Cordero; H Skinner, Maunder; Hepburn, Yeandle (capt), Williams, Witty, Lonsdale, S Skinner, Armand, Capstick.

Replacements: Burrows, Moon, Iosefa-Scott, Tshiunza, Tuima, Hidaglo-Clyne, J Simmonds, Whitten.

Referee: Christophe Ridley (RFU).

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