A TOM Howe hat-trick and an outstanding defensive display were all in vain as Exeter Chiefs came from behind to beat Worcester Warriors 34-19 at Sixways.

The score-line did not reflect the performance of Warriors who led 19-10 at the start of the second half and trailed by just a point going into the final two minutes.

But two late tries secured Exeter a bonus-point victory that saw them overtake Worcester at the top of Pool C in the Premiership Cup.

It was a harsh result for Warriors, especially for Howe and Cornell du Preez who were exceptional all evening.

Geoff Berkeley picks out five talking points from Friday’s loss.


Not many people would have given Warriors a hope of giving Chiefs a run for their money considering the gulf in experience on the field.

Exeter were littered with internationals with more than 1,200 club appearances between their starting 15.

But they came up against a well-organised home defence, led magnificently by back-row bruiser du Preez.

Even when lock Andrew Kitchener was sin-binned, Worcester refused to crumble and had the courage to score their second try whilst they were a man down.

With 70 per cent possession Exeter’s pressure eventually told as they scored 24 unanswered points.

But boss Alan Solomons, who gave opportunities to the likes of Beck Cutting, Joe Morris and Kai Owen, will be buoyed by his side’s performance.


There were a number of top tackling displays, with forwards Caleb Montgomery, Graham Kitchener and Sam Lewis all impressing and even young prop Owen showing his stopping power.

But it was du Preez who stood out as he made about 30 tackles, 18 of those coming in an incredible first half showing.

The Scotland international was everywhere and really rattled Exeter’s big ball carriers with his physicality.

His extraordinary efforts came off the back of his man-of-the-match display at Bath last week where he showed his carrying ability.

There were fears over his career when he sustained a horror throat injury on the opening day of last season.

But du Preez is now back in ferocious form and should continue to get the nod ahead of captain Gerrit-Jan van Velze at number eight.


Trailing 20-19 with 12 minutes to go, Warriors had Exeter worried. But their hopes of claiming a memorable victory were all but dashed when Montgomery was sin-binned.

After initially misjudging a kick to the backfield, Jono Lance pounced on the ball carrier and appeared to secure a turnover.

It looked like Exeter would be pinged for holding on, but referee JP Doyle saw otherwise and opted to go to the TMO.

After checking the replays, Doyle felt Montgomery was in an offside position at the ruck when slapping the ball out of scrum-half Jack Maunder’s hands – an offence also known as ‘playing the nine’.

Montgomery was in the wrong, but Warriors should feel aggrieved that Exeter were not penalised before the flanker’s error.

It was a dubious decision that proved costly as Exeter overpowered 14-man Worcester, scoring two converted tries to seal the win.


With Bryce Heem and Josh Adams leaving this summer, there is a real opening for Warriors’ wingers to nail down a starting spot.

And Howe is doing just that as he took his chances on Friday. His first try came on four minutes when he somehow found himself in a maul before powering over.

With his scrum cap now ripped off, Howe used all his pace to support a brilliant Jamie Shillcock run before finishing.

He then completed his hat-trick in stunning fashion, chipping the ball over Gareth Steenson’s head before touching down.

Howe’s finishing ability comes as no surprise having crossed 11 times in 16 appearances last term, but it was his efforts in defence that really shone.

He pulled off a try-saving tackle to deny Richard Chapstick and made some great reads as he almost got an interception try.


There were a couple of interesting selections for this match. The most notable one was in midfield with Alex Hearle being handed the number 13 shirt.

The academy ace is a winger but came off the bench to fill in at outside centre last weekend and was given another chance to impress there.

This time Hearle played 49 minutes and did not look out of place.

His decision to burst out of the defensive line to shut down an attack backfired as Olly Woodburn burst past him to score.

But after that error Hearle tightened things up and tackled well, suggesting he has what it takes.

The other move that caught the eye was Shillcock playing at 15.

The 22-year-old has done a fine job at fly-half in the past but looks at his best at full-back and on the evidence of Friday’s night he could provide Chris Pennell stiff competition for the jersey.