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Report: Exeter Chiefs Women 29-26 Bristol Bears Women

Two losing bonus-points ensured that the Bears will return to Sandy Park next Sunday (May 22nd) for an Allianz Premier 15s semi-final against the Chiefs, after a blistering contest in the Devon sunshine.

Tries from Grace Crompton, Sarah Bern, Courtney Keight and a last-gasp effort from Lucy Burgess saw Dave Ward's side seal a third-place finish at the end of the regular season.

Two apiece from from Chiefs' Jennine Detiveaux and Kate Zackary and as fifth from Emily Tuttosi saw them edge a fascinating encounter and setup a repeat fixture next weekend.


What happened?

Exeter Chiefs dominated the opening stages of play, setting up camp in the Bears half to turn on the attack.

Eventually a pass out wide found its way into the hands of Jennine Detiveaux who raced over for the opening try for the Chiefs. No conversion kept the score 5-0 on the 10-minute mark.

Bears tried to get a foothold in the game and had their chances with a break from Keira Bevan taking play into Exeter’s half off the back of a solid driving maul from the pack.

Bristol kept their composure despite Exeter’s defence holding strong and a build up of phases out wide saw Grace Crompton put her foot down to score in the corner. Amber Reed with the conversion to put the Bears ahead at 30 minutes.

Exeter tried to answer back with a powerful attack rupturing Bristol’s defence to run into the 22. A monumental chop tackle from Kayleigh Powell stopped them in their tracks but advantage in their favour allowed them to keep hold of possession.

Passing the ball out wide a chip over the top found the hands of Detiveaux who went over for the brace. No conversion but Exeter went back ahead 10-7.

Keen to have the final say of the first half, Bristol raced back up field for another strong attack. A penalty in their favour was taken quickly by Abbie Ward who took play agonisingly close to the line. Keeping hold of the ball and a swift offload from Bevan found the hands of Sarah Bern who crashed over for the try. Reed booting the extras to take the Bears 14-10 ahead at the break.

Coming out for the second half, Exeter were first out of the blocks claiming the ball and the attack. A big drive almost looked the making of the try but a big defensive effort from Simi Pam, Bern and Ward held them up over the line. But not wanting to come away empty handed, they went again, and Kate Zackary crashed over to take back the lead for the Chiefs. Gabby Cantorna converting.

Charging back at them a beautiful link up from the Bears saw Phoebe Murray draw in the Exeter defence before finding Courtney Keight on her outside to put her away for the try. The conversion just wide kept Bristol just ahead 17-19.

But the momentum shifted in the final quarter with Bristol Bears receiving two yellow cards within two minutes for Courtney Keight and Rownita Marston. Utilising the two-player advantage, Emily Tuttosi and Zackary crossed over for the tries.

However, in the closing ten minutes, a red card for Exeter’s Laura Delgado for a dangerous tackle on Grace Crompton left the Chiefs down to 14 against the Bears 13.

Digging in deep until the very end, Bristol charged their way into Exeter’s 22 and a lovely break from Lucy Burgess took her under the posts for the try. Reed converting to narrow the scores at 29-26 with less than a minute on the clock.

Battling hard, Bristol tried to have the final say but a loos pass was gathered by Exeter to give them the win.

Exeter Chiefs Women: 15. Merryn Doidge, 14. Eilidh Sinclair, 13. Kanako Kobayashi, 12. Gabby Cantorna, 11. Jennine Detiveaux, 10. Patricia Garcia, 9. Flo Robinson, 1. Hope Rogers, 2. Emily Tuttosi, 3. Daleaka Menin, 4. McKinley Hunt, 5. Linde Van Der Velden, 6. Poppy Leitch (cc), 7. Rachel Johnson, 8. Kate Zackary (cc)

Replacements: 16. Clara Nielson, 17. Michaella Roberts, 18. Laura Delgado, 19. Nichola Fryday, 20. Ebony Jefferies, 21. Brooke Bradley, 22. Nancy McGillivray, 23. Niamh Terry

Bristol Bears Women: 15. Kayleigh Powell, 14. Grace Crompton, 13. Phoebe Murray, 12. Amber Reed (cc), 11. Courtney Keight, 10. Lucie Skuse, 9. Keira Bevan; 1. Simi Pam, 2. Hannah West, 3. Sarah Bern, 4. Delaney Burns, 5. Abbie Ward (cc), 6. Alisha Butchers, 7. Manon Johnes, 8. Rownita Marston.

System players: 16. Holly Phillips, 17. China Kill, 18. Ellie Mulhearn, 19. Siwan Lillicrap, 20. Alice Lockwood, 21. Lucy Burgess, 22. Elinor Snowsill, 23. Ella Lovibond

Exeter Chiefs Women: Tries – Jennine Detiveaux (2) Kate Zackary (2), Emily Tuttosi. Conversion - Gabby Cantorna (2)

Bristol Bears Women: Tries – Grace Crompton, Sarah Bern, Courtney Keight, Lucy Burgess. Conversions – Amber Reed (x3)


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