Exeter’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages dented
Marco Tauleigne goes over with nine minutes remaining to seal win for the hosts
Game was level at half-time, and it could have gone either way
BY BRAD POOLE
Exeter’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions Cup took a huge knock today as they lost narrowly 34-27 to Bordeaux-Begles in a thriller.
An open first half ended level as Will Hooley’s reliable boot, and breakaway tries from and Dave Lewis and Byron McGuigan’s kept the game close, despite limited possession for the travellers.
But, with Hooley in the sin bin, replacement Marco Tauleigne cantered in for the decisive score.
Tauleigne scored the winning try with nine minutes remaining after Adam Ashley-Cooper, Blair Connor, Louis-Benoit Madaule and Benat Auzqui had dotted down earlier.
Defeat leaves Exeter third in Pool Three, ahead of Bordeaux on points difference, three points behind Clermont Auvergne and five off leaders Ospreys, who they meet at Sandy Park next weekend.
Chiefs coach Rob Baxter had made 13 changes to the side that beat Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership last week but Exeter still took the lead after just three minutes through the boot of Will Hooley.
Bordeaux then dominated possession, and they took the lead with two tries in quick succession. Former Wallaby Ashley-Cooper picked up a loose ball from Julien Rey’s break to cross after 13 minutes and then Connor followed just three minutes later from Pierre Bernard’s pass.
Fly-half Bernard missed with both conversions to limit Bordeaux’s lead to seven points, but he made amends with a 23rd-minute penalty.
Exeter then hit back against the run of play when McGuigan ran back a loose kick before sending scrum-half Lewis racing over. Hooley’s conversion made it a three-point game but Bordeaux’s response was immediate.
Yann Lesgourgues’ burst along the left-hand touchline ended with captain Madaule driving over.
Exeter once again found a way back as Michele Campagnaro released McGuigan for a try that Hooley converted before Hooley added a penalty to level the scores at 20-20 going into the break.
Bordeaux started the second half the better of the two sides and were first to score when their forwards set up a driving maul from a lineout that ended with replacement hooker Auzqui touching down to hand his side the bonus point.
Exeter refused to give up and three minutes later responded again when Bodilly finished a sweeping attack. Olly Woodburn then found space before combining well with Bodilly, who raced clear to score before the end of the third quarter.
Hooley’s conversion tied the scores at 27-27, but the fly-half was sin-binned in the 67th minute for infringing at a ruck when Bordeaux looked threatening.
Ashley-Cooper had a second try ruled out by the video official, but replacement loose forward Tauleigne broke clear a moment later for the decisive score.
Exeter had late chances and were helped when Bordeaux were reduced to 14 men for the final four minutes with a yellow card for prop Sebastien Taofifenua, but the Premiership side were unable to grab the try that may have handed them the draw.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Bordeaux: Adam Ashley-Cooper
The Australian was nothing short of sensational in the Champions Cup matchup against Exeter, putting himself about and crossing the line to score a vital try for his side. He could have had more, but one try was chalked off by the video official. Ashley-Cooper was solid in the tackle, ensuring no one got past him and with the ball in hand he made breaks and brought others into play. He made the difference for Bordeaux in a tight game.
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Metuisela Talebulamaijaina, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Louis Madaule, 5 Adam Jaulhac, 4 Jan Andre Marais, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Benat Auzqui, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Cyril Cazeaux, 20 Marco Tauleigne, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Lionel Beauxis, 23 Felix Le Bourhis
Exeter: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Max Bodilly, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann (c), 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Alex Brown, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Moray Low
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Chrysander Botha
Date: Saturday, January 16
Venue: Stade Chaban-Delmas
Kick-off: 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)