Racing were right back in the contest and Exeter needed to reassert themselves. Unsurprisingly, their forwards again came up trumps. The French side were once more powerless to stop drive after drive and this time it was Williams who prospered, with Joe Simmonds’ conversion making it 21-12 at half-time.
But Racing struck first in the second period, taking less than three minutes before Zebo arrowed over for another score and became only the fourth player to score two tries in a Heineken final.
It was a wake-up call for Exeter, yet they replied rapidly after wing Jack Nowell intercepted Russell’s ambitious pass 20 metres from his own line and found a supporting Slade, who scored and Joe Simmonds converted.
Back came Racing with a close-range score by Chat – Machenaud converted – and the game entered its final quarter with 52 points and eight tries scored.
A Machenaud penalty made it a one-point game with 15 minutes left, then Francis was yellow-carded, Joe Simmonds struck his clinching penalty and Exeter prevailed following an anxious wait before the whistle.
Wasps 46-5 Exeter: Electric Dan Robson sparks demolition job to propel his side into a home Premiership semi-final
Wasps welcomed Exeter to the Ricoh Arena for their final Premiership game
Dan Robson was the architect of a thrashing against a weakened Chiefs side
Wasps have ended the season in incredible form with 11 wins in their last 12
Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson’s latest majestic, Test-class performance propelled his side to a home Premiership semi-final on the back of another try spree.
While the magnitude of this result was something of a red herring as the Chiefs were far from full strength, Lee Blackett’s side ensured they go into the play-offs with thunderous momentum.
From the depths of 10th place when the new head coach took charge in February, this victory was Wasps’ 11th in their last 12 league games — and a 12th bonus-point win.
Dan Robson was the driving force as Wasps demolished Exeter Chiefs on Sunday afternoon
The Chiefs were no match for the now Premiership semi-finalists, falling to a try spree
Robson ignited this Ricoh Arena rout with a demonstration of the supreme repertoire which should, by rights, earn the 28-year-old a chance to add to his meagre tally of two England caps.
The scrum-half scored a try and ran the show. He was alert and electric — finding gaps and terrorising Exeter with his canny kicking game.
Blackett said: ‘He was really good again today. I am really pleased with Dan, he is playing really well. He’s one of our key guys.’
Asked about his international prospects, the Wasps head coach added: ‘I don’t think he is a million miles away, he is almost there. He has put himself up for selection.
Robson impressed once more and the 28-year-old is pushing hard for another England spot
‘He is pivotal to how well we are playing. He has put his hand up and it’s now up to Eddie Jones.’
But the transformation of the Coventry-based club has been a collective effort. Once again, they were slick in attack and aggressive in defence — as epitomised by one monstrous midfield hit by ex-All Black centre Malakai Fekitoa.
The Wasps forwards again showcased their handling prowess and thrived at the breakdown, even without poacher-in-chief Jack Willis.
Blackett can scarcely believe how everything has fallen into place since he took over the team built by Dai Young.
Jimmy Gopperth bagged Wasps’ third try as a weakened Exeter Chiefs couldn’t keep up
‘It has been incredible,’ he said. ‘Sometimes you feel like you are going to wake up. It feels a bit of a dream at times because of just how well it has gone. We are proud of where we are, but there is still a big job to be done.’
Rob Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby, spoke of how this six-try mauling would serve as a ‘slap in the face’ for his young players.
He also paid tribute to the victors and fellow home semi-finalists, saying: ‘They look like they’re enjoying themselves. I always say that the teams I hate playing the most are the ones who look comfortable, are enjoying themselves and having fun, because they tend to play the best rugby. Wasps are doing that.’
Report and highlights to follow from St James’ Park.
Saturday 3 October 2020 17:17, UK
Exeter picked up their first home win of the season with a comfortable 2-0 win against Cambridge at St James’ Park.
Cambridge started well, with Kyle Knoyle being played in, but he was denied by a terrific save from Lewis Ward.
Ward then had to be at his best to deny Paul Mullin, but Exeter were awarded a penalty in the 16th minute when Harrison Dunk clumsily brought down Randell Williams in the penalty box and Matt Jay rolled the ball past Dimitar Mitov from the spot.
It was the first league goal Cambridge have conceded this season, having previously kept five clean sheets in six games across all competitions this season, and they conceded their second after 34 minutes when Joel Randall robbed Knoyle of possession and sprinted into the box before firing a superb low finish with his left foot in at the near post.
Jay should have made it 3-0 just before half-time , but fired wide from Jake Taylor’s cross, and he came close again in the second half, only to be denied by Mitov.
Cambridge looked less threatening in the second half as Exeter defended well but without stamping home their authority with the chances they had on the break.