Sale Sharks 14 Exeter Chiefs 20

Mark Stevens
Authored by Mark Stevens
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2019 - 11:30am

Make no mistake, this was a brutal battle.

Fighting it out in the quest for valuable league points, by the time these two Premiership heavyweights wake-up tomorrow, the blood may have been vanished, but the scars of battle will still be clearly evident.

In the end, it was Exeter Chiefs who delivered the telling blows, maintaining their three-point lead at the top of the Gallagher Premiership by flooring rivals Sale Sharks for a second time this season.

First half tries from Ollie Devoto and Don Armand paved the way for their latest triumph, after which replacement Sean Lonsdale added another to go alongside a five-point haul from fly-half Gareth Steenson.

The Sharks countered with converted second half scores of their own through Sam James and Will Cliff, but it was the visitors who flew their way back to the Westcountry celebrating another crucial step towards securing an all-important home semi-final come May.

Having returned to the summit of the table with victory over Newcastle Falcons, Baxter saw little reason to tinker with his winning formula too much. In fact, the sole change in personnel came on the bench where Elvis Taione provided hooker back-up in place of Jack Innard.

The Sharks, meanwhile, were virtually at full-strength and paraded a wealth of star names in their line-up, including livewire scrum-half Faf De Klerk, Wallaby James O’Connor, winger Denny Solomona and the industrious Jono Ross in the back-row.

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