Holders Exeter into LV= Cup final


Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Champions Exeter survived a strong second-half fightback by Leicester to book their place in the LV= Cup final against Saracens next Sunday.

Exeter, who beat Northampton in last year’s final, will meet Sarries at Franklin’s Gardens after a 30-22 victory over the Tigers at Welford Road.

The visitors led 20-16 at half-time thanks to tries by Elvis Taione and Fetu’u Vainikolo, with Michele Rizzo replying for Leicester.

Leicester fly-half Tommy Bell, who kicked 17 points, put Leicester within one point in the second half with a penalty and a drop goal but Greg Bateman clinched Exeter’s victory with a try in the 75th minute.

Fly-half Ceri Sweeney kicked 15 points for Exeter, who had Max Bodilly yellow carded in the 62nd minute.

Prop Rizzo opened the scoring for the Tigers with a fabulously worked try in the fifth minute after a searing break from his own half by winger Miles Benjamin.

Benjamin drew the last defender before finding impressive young centre George Catchpole and, after a ruck in the Exeter 22, Rizzo blasted over from short range with fly-half Bell adding the conversion.

Exeter were level 10 minutes later when hooker Taione got the touchdown after a driving maul from a line-out and Sweeney kicked the conversion.

Bell restored Leicester’s lead with the first of three penalties, this one from half way, but Exeter kept their noses in front for the rest of the half after they were handed a second try on a plate in the 20th minute.

Leicester looked set to counter from their own 10-metre line but number eight Laurence Pearce’s pass was easily intercepted by winger Vainikolo, who ran in under the posts unopposed, with Sweeney adding the conversion.

Sweeney kicked two penalties with a minute of the half left to give his side a small four-point cushion which became seven two minutes after the break thanks to another Sweeney penalty.

Bell missed a long range penalty before finding the posts with a drop goal after Leicester failed to score from a line-out and drive.

Bell put Leicester one point behind with his fourth penalty after Exeter full-back Bodilly had been sin-binned in the 62nd minute for a professional foul after a great break by Tigers lock Brad Thorn.

Leicester, who made several key changes on the hour, might have scored moments later after Benjamin’s break put replacement hooker Neil Briggs clear but he was collared just short by flanker Ben White.

Replacement Bateman sealed victory for Exeter, only their second at Welford, with a try from a line-out and drive in the 75th minute with Sweeney converting.

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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