Exeter 33-17 Ospreys: Chiefs progress to the quarter-finals following dramatic final day
Exeter Chiefs secured a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals by beating the Ospreys
The Chiefs led 14-7 at the break thanks to tries from back-rowers Kai Horstmann and Thomas Waldrom
A brace from James Short added to a Waldrom second pushed Exeter clear
Ospreys got a penalty late on as a consolation
Exeter Chiefs are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup following a 33-17 win against Ospreys at Sandy Park in the final round of pool matches.
Two tries in the first 10 minutes from Kai Horstmann and Thomas Waldrom sandwiched Hanno Dirksen’s effort in a pulsating opening to give Exeter an early lead.
James Short scored two after the break to seemingly finish the game, but a penalty try did ensure Ospreys did have some hope at the end.
But a late second try from Waldrom ensured Exeter will progress to the final eight to face Wasps in dramatic style.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux-Begles’ shock 37-28 win at Clermont Auvergne helped the Chiefs top the pool on points difference.
Needing a victory to top Pool 2 and progress, Ospreys made the worst possible start at Sandy Park, as they conceded a try within the opening three minutes as Horstmann touched down following Waldrom’s initial charge.
Steenson’s conversion made it 7-0, but the Ospreys quickly drew level following scrum-half Brendan Leonard’s break, and before the Exeter defence could regroup, Dirksen crashed through a pile of bodies.
Biggar tied things up through an angled conversion, 7-7.
But Exeter hit back in what was a thrilling first 10 minutes as Waldrom scored try number three. Again it came from the restart as Waldrom forced himself over after originally being held up a metre from the line. Steenson made no mistake, restoring the seven point gap, which they held until the break.
With the wind at their backs, Ospreys began the second period in confident fashion, and a Biggar penalty from in front of Exeter’s posts made it 14-10.
The Ospreys proved to be their own worst enemies just three minutes later, though, when Wales international hooker Scott Baldwin’s reckless late challenge on Waldrom left referee Jerome Garces with little option other than to sin-bin him.
Minutes later the Chiefs took advantage by grabbing their bonus-point score – again through Short as he slid over for his second with Steenson converting.
Ospreys though were not done, and some heavy pressure in the corner led to Garces awarding a penalty try which Biggar converted.
But with minutes to go, Exeter sealed victory with try number five as RUCK Man of the match Waldrom powered over for his second, eliminating Ospreys in the process, with Will Hooley finishing the scoring.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Exeter Chiefs: Thomas Waldrom
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Tom Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Kai Horstmann, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Jonny Hill, 3 Alex Brown, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Max Bodilly
Ospreys: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Underhill, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Thomas Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies , 23 Owen Watkin
Date: Sunday, January 24
Venue: Sandy Park
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Salem Attalah (France), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Hervé Dubes (France)