Champions Exeter Chiefs reclaim top spot in the Aviva Premiership with comfortable victory over Wasps

Champions Exeter reclaimed top spot in the Aviva Premiership by stinging Wasps 31-17 at Sandy Park and recording a third successive bonus-point victory.

Last season’s Premiership final between the clubs needed extra-time to decide it, but the Chiefs’ ruthless first-half performance meant they were out of sight by the break.

Wing Olly Woodburn scored two tries, while flankers Dave Dennis and Don Armand also touched down – all four scores came between the ninth and 38th minutes – to showcase Exeter’s first-half dominance and underpin a second defeat on the bounce for Wasps after they lost to Harlequins last weekend.

Replacement hooker Shaun Malton added a second-half try, with skipper Gareth Steenson kicking three conversions as the Chiefs moved two points clear of Saracens and Newcastle.

Flanker Ashley Johnson and wing Josh Bassett scored tries for Wasps, with Jimmy Gopperth adding two conversions and a penalty, but they never seriously troubled an Exeter side looking like major title contenders just four games into the new Premiership campaign.

Steenson skippered Exeter in the absence of injured captain Jack Yeandle, with Elvis Taione starting at hooker, while full-back Phil Dollman was also ruled out and replaced by Lachie Turner.

Wasps, meanwhile, arrived in Devon minus injured front-line players like Danny Cipriani, Willie le Roux, Dan Robson and Gaby Lovobalavu, but Gopperth returned from a foot problem at fly-half and England flanker James Haskell made his first start of the season.

Exeter, though, were immediately on the front foot, going through a remarkable 32 phases of play as Wasps were pinned deep inside their own half, and such domination eventually told when possession was moved wide and Woodburn finished off.

Wasps were surviving on scraps of ball, but they struck from their first attack as Johnson made the most of a fortuitous bounce off the back of a lineout and charged 20 metres to score. Gopperth converted, sending his team…

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