Record Sandy Park crowd witness Exeter see off Leicester
Exeter maintained their superb home form as they defeated Leicester 29-10 in front of a record crowd at Sandy Park.
An attendance of exactly 15,000 witnessed the Chiefs end their 2023 home campaign in style with a bonus-point win as they stretched their unbeaten Sandy Park run in all competitions to 23 matches, spanning a period of 61 weeks.
It took the Tigers a long time to find their way into the game, despite many of their internationals returning to duty.
They trailed 24-0 early in the second half and, when they finally did fight back, they had left themselves too big a mountain to climb.
Exeter got off to a dream start with a close-range try after only seven minutes from South African flanker Jacques Vermeulen following a period of intense pressure on the Tigers line, with Slade converting.
Four minutes later they were awarded a penalty try when George Martin was adjudged to have tackled Rory O’Loughlin early to prevent him taking a try-scoring pass from Tom Wyatt and the lead was suddenly 14-0.
The advantage could have been increased even further if Lewis Pearson had not opted to go for glory himself, with two players outside him.
Even referee Tom Foley needed some first-half treatment after getting smacked in the ribs when he inadvertently got in the way of a Leicester attacker.
Chiefs had a try by Jack Yeandle ruled out for a double movement in the 35th minute, but they rammed home their first-half superiority a minute before the break when Slade latched on to a very loose pass from World Cup winner Handre Pollard, who had a first half to forget, and raced 40 metres to score under the posts, leaving the simplest of conversions for a 21-0 interval lead.
Slade put the Chiefs four scores clear 11 minutes into the second half with a penalty as the Tigers collapsed a scrum.
Leicester finally got their first points on the board in the 56th minute when England winger Anthony Watson finished off in the right-hand corner after they had camped on the home line following an initial break by Jasper Wiese. Pollard badly pulled the conversion attempt.
More sustained try-line pressure created a walk-in score for full-back Freddie Steward after former Chiefs centre Solomone Kata’s long pass as Tigers continued their fightback.
However, the conversion was again crucially missed, this time by Jamie Shillcock, leaving them still 14 points adrift.
Exeter were not satisfied with just the win, though, and replacement lock Rusi Tuima forced his way over with the clock in the red to claim the bonus point and provide the perfect finish for the home supporters.
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