Home Play by Mail Bristol 40-33 Exeter: Chiefs set to miss play-offs as Charles Piutau inspires Bears rout

Bristol 40-33 Exeter: Chiefs set to miss play-offs as Charles Piutau inspires Bears rout

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Bristol 40-33 Exeter: Chiefs set to miss play-offs after six successive final appearances as Charles Piutau inspires six-try rout of endemic Bears

  • Exeter, who have reached every final since 2016, are set to miss the play-offs
  • Loss leaves them in seventh place, forcing three other teams to drop points
  • Bristol capitalized on the visitors’ basic mistakes to run in six tries on Friday night

As the Bristol players celebrated victory and waved goodbye to their departing colleagues in front of a raucous crowd, Rob Baxter put on an understandably more dejected figure.

Exeter’s director of rugby has had a season to forget and he has rightly admitted that his side’s play-off hopes are now dead and buried after that 40-point loss.

Baxter’s Chiefs may still mathematically crack the top four after picking up two lost bonus points at home to Ashton Gate, but in reality those hopes are in vain. Baxter recognized him.

Utility full-back Alapati Leiua (left) celebrates Bristol’s fourth try with Jack Bates

MATCH FACTS

Bristol Bears: Piutau; Morahan, O’Conor (Bates 46), Leiua, Fricker; Sheedy (Lloyd 55), Randall (Uren 69); Woolmore (Benz-Salomon 75), Thacker (Byrne 49), Afoa (Armstrong 68), Attwood (Harding 53), Joyce, Vui, Jeffries, Luatua (captain) (Thomas 61)

Try: Sheedy 22, Piutau 33, 47, Leiua 52, Fricker 65, Morahan 75

The inconvenients: Sheedy 23, 33, 49, 53, Lloyd 66

Chiefs of Exeter: Hogg; Woodburn, Slade, Whitten, Hodge (Hendrickson 43); Simmonds, Maunder (Townsend 53); Hepburn (Kenny 53), Yeandle (captain) (Innard 53), Williams (Schickerling 53), Gray, S Skinner, Ewers, Kirsten (Grondona 25), Vermeulen (Jenkins 57)

Replacement not used: H.Skinner

Try: Grondona 27, Hodge 36, Kenny 58, Woodburn 61

The inconvenients: Simmonds 28, 37, 59, 62

Arbitrator: Luke Pearce (RFU)

Presence: 19 118

Starman: Charles Piutau (Bristol)

His side have completed six tries here and it will now be between Gloucester and Northampton for fourth place with favorites Saints. Exeter have been Gallagher Premiership runners-up for each of the past six seasons. It was a record, but all good things must come to an end. They will be back.

“I think we’re done,” Baxter said. ‘It’s disappointing. I think today has highlighted that we need to move on. We’ve gotten a little stubborn as a group of players and they need to stop and open their eyes.

“We can’t just sit here and say ‘We can just be the same people and next season we’ll just win’, because that’s not going to work. We have to improve as individuals and as a team. team.

“There is a lot of work to do and it starts now.”

Exeter have struggled with injuries to key players this season, but their loss to a Bristol side who looked back somewhere near their best showed why they are not in the top four.

At least not this season.

Exeter made basic mistakes and Scotland captain Stuart Hogg had another bad game. Hogg dropped a keeper early in the evening, costing his team what would have been a certain try.

Toby Fricker and Luke Morahan sealed Bristol's win at Ashton Gate on Friday night

Toby Fricker and Luke Morahan sealed Bristol’s win at Ashton Gate on Friday night

“It’s been a tough season for all sorts of reasons, but I don’t want to keep making excuses,” Baxter added. “When you concede 40 points you won’t win many Premiership rugby games.”

Exeter were tied 14-14 at the break as Santiago Grondona and Josh Hodge responded to Bristol’s tries from Callum Sheedy and the exceptional Charles Piutau.

Sheedy’s try was created by a brilliant quick strike from England scrum-half Harry Randall.

Two tries early in the second half set Bristol on the path to success as they played the kind of effervescent rugby that has been absent for far too long this season.

First, Randall dispatched Piutau for his second, then Sheedy’s break and majestic offload gave Alapati Leiua a simple finish.

Exeter scored four tries but that wasn't enough to revive their Premiership play-off hopes

Exeter scored four tries but that wasn’t enough to revive their Premiership play-off hopes

When Bristol substitute Jack Bates was shown a yellow card, Exeter responded with James Kenny and Olly Woodburn to level the game again at 28-28.

But Toby Fricker and Luke Morahan sealed it for Bristol to make Dave Ewers’ closing act mere consolation.

Leiua, John Afoa and Dave Attwood are among the Bristol players making the move this summer. They received a fond farewell at the final whistle.

“We’ve talked about enjoying this game, working hard and playing fearlessly,” Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam said after his side’s final home game of the season.

“There have been glimpses of this kind of game this season, but there have been back and forths. We have to improve ourselves and improve our fundamentals.

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