Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs 47-25 Lyon

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Ollie Devoto
Ollie Devoto crossed for Exeter’s fourth try just before half-time
Exeter (26) 47
Tries: Hill 2, O’Flaherty, Devoto, Ewers, Penalty, Woodburn Cons: J Simmonds 4, H Skinner
Lyon (20) 25
Tries: Couilloud, Mignot, Cretin Con: Wisniewski 2 Pen: Wisniewski 2

Defending champions Exeter survived Lyon’s opening blitz to advance to the last eight of the Champions Cup.

The Chiefs slipped 14-0 down inside 10 minutes as Xavier Mignot crossed soon after Baptiste Couilloud.

But a close-range double from Jonny Hill and tries from Tom O’Flaherty and Ollie Devoto reeled in the visitors.

Exeter were soon out of sight in the second half with Dave Ewers and Olly Woodburn going over as Lyon lost heart and shape.

The victory sets up a blockbuster quarter-final against bookmakers’ favourites and long-time Pro14 champions Leinster.

Chiefs belatedly hit their stride

Director of rugby Rob Baxter will know the Chiefs may well surrender their title with a similarly slow start next weekend.

Lyon burst out of the blocks with Couilloud scampering in after a break by New Zealander Rory Arnold before Charles Ngatai’s mis-pass sent Mignot in at the corner.

The French visitors, sixth in the Top 14, had been helped into their flying start by some uncharacteristic inaccuracy from the Chiefs forwards.

But a stolen line-out and shaky scrum were soon replaced with their trademark efficiency.

Hill burrowed over twice with Lyon’s fringe defence looking unprepared for the holders’ pick-and-go excellence.

A training-ground move sliced apart Lyon’s backline to allow O’Flaherty to score before Devoto went over for a fourth try on 38 minutes.

Lyon’s early burst meant they were still within a converted try at the break. But Exeter disappeared over the horizon in the second half, with Ewers’ score followed by a penalty try as Lyon’s scrum, shorn of sin-binned prop Xavier Chiocci, crumbled.

Woodburn dotted down from replacement scrum-half Stu Townsend’s canny kick. The visitors finished as they started, Dylan Cretin cantering in at the corner in the final play of the game – but it was too little too late after their fast start.

The sight of Joe Simmonds limping out of the action will be of more concern to Chiefs fans with such a tight turnaround to the arrival of four-time winners Leinster at Sandy Park.

More to follow.

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