Henry Slade Leads Way as Dominant Exeter Rout Leicester

Christmas is just around the corner, but Exeter has already received his perfect gift. A club record crowd of 15,000 witnessed this dominant bonus-point win, consolidating the Chiefs into the top four of the 10-team Gallagher Premiership table at mid-season, leaving a hapless Leicester in eighth place.

While the tigers may not have eaten their turkey yet, they already know what a good filling looks like. Exeter led 24-0 after 50 minutes and had too much energy, line speed and skill for the lackluster visitors, who had won their last five games in all competitions. The junior chefs have not lost at home since October 2022 and are gaining confidence every week.

Even a strong Leicester squad with nine starting players participating in this year’s World Cup was no match for opponents who also beat Toulon and Munster in dramatic fashion in this month’s Champions Cup.

The in-form Henry Slade scored a try and contributed a total of 12 points to receive the Man of the Match award, but the Chiefs group was also excellent again collectively, with Greg Fisilau, number 8, enjoying another good game and Rus Tuima scoring his team’s fourth try in the closing minutes.

Leicester, on the other hand, will clearly have gone home without any seasonal cheerfulness. They had arrived on Friday, but at first they looked like a team that was still mentally on the M5. The pressure from the crowd gave the bosses an early opportunity to kick a penalty into the corner, and soon a cheerful Jacques Vermeulen finished his team’s first attempt. The Tigers also couldn’t complain about Exeter’s second try, with George Martin throwing the ball to Rory O’Loughlin to concede a penalty try and a yellow card.

While the Chiefs’ locker room is full of new faces, big reputations don’t seem to bother them. Fisilau and Welsh international Lock Dafydd Jenkins are clearly fast-rising talents, with Leicester’s Springbok world champion Jasper Wiese and several other high-profile club mates unable to develop a consistent forward momentum.

Apart from the lineup, where the visitors stole some balls, the Chiefs were superior in most areas and could have added at least a couple more attempts in the first half. Lewis Pearson was guilty of holding the ball with two players in promising positions, and Jack Yeandle ruled out a try for a double move near the line. On a positive note, Ollie Devoto has made a remarkable start to the season in the first division, having had difficulty returning to the Exeter midfield after two hip operations.

Adding to the Tigers’ woes was the fact that they lost England’s top-ranked international scrum-half Ben Youngs to a leg issue just half an hour before the end and things soon got worse and worse. Slade, who was starting to compete with Noddy Holder for a reliable Christmas impact, was faster on a loose pass from Pollard and, having beautifully taken it off the deck, had the pace of jumping 40 meters to score between the posts.

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