Steenson seals top spot for Chiefs
Steenson seals top spot for ChiefsSHARE
Chiefs edged the lead at the break following a low-scoring half but Sandy Park was soon rocking as the hosts turned on the style in the second period, Don Armand bagging the first try after an excellent spell of possession.
Tigers struggled to match their opponents' prowess as Henry Slade, Jonny Hill and Jack Yeandle added further scores, Steenson instrumental with seven points as the visitors fell to their sixth consecutive defeat – their worst run since 1965.
A scrappy start saw Chiefs suffer an early blow as Luke Cowan-Dickie limped off, but their sustained pressure was rewarded when Slade kicked over after Tigers failed to release the ball.
Handling errors plagued both sides but Lachie Turner soon turned on the style for the Chiefs, zig-zagging through the Leicester defence before the attack ended inside the visitors' 22, and Tigers were quickly back on level terms as George Ford scored from the tee.
It wasn't long before the Chiefs were back ahead, Steenson defying the windy conditions at Sandy Park to knock over a scrum penalty and give the hosts the lead at the break.
The second half had barely begun when Ford restored parity once more with his second kick of the day, but Chiefs asserted their dominance to score the first try of the day.
Moving through the phases, Sam Hill and Slade impressed as they pushed their opponents back, Armand eventually bundled over under the posts by Dave Ewers with Steenson adding the extras.
Fire roared in the bellies of the Tigers players as the action switched from end-to-end, but poor judgement from Jonny May saw the ball pop up for Slade who stepped on the gas to run in from 35-metres to give his side some breathing space.
Moments later Rob Baxter's men had another try disallowed following a knock-on but that did little to stop the Chiefs' flow, and there was no doubt when they did get their third score – Hill with the honours as he reached over in the corner after a stunning home march to the line.
And Yeandle secured the bonus point with the final play of the game, touching down after fine work from the Exeter maul.
For the Exeter Chiefs:
Tries:Armand, Slade, Hill, Yeandle
Cons: Steenson 2
Pens: Slade, Steenson
For Leicester Tigers:
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Nic White, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 James Short.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Jonny May, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Valentino Mapapalangi, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mathew Tait
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Luke Pearce
TMO: Geoff Warren