|Exeter Chiefs (12) 19|
|Tries: Witty, Devoto, Hendrickson Cons: Skinner 2|
|London Irish (15) 22|
|Tries: Cornish, Rona, Creevy Cons: Jackson 2 Pen: Jackson|
London Irish beat an under-strength Exeter side in a see-saw contest for their first win over the Chiefs in more than five years.
The lead swung five times in the first half as Will Witty and Ollie Devoto’s scores for the hosts were interspersed by Matt Cornish and Curtis Rona tries.
Tom Hendrickson’s 50th-minute try put the hosts ahead again only for Agustin Creevy to restore the Irish advantage.
Irish held Exeter short of their line in the final moments to seal victory.
The win for the Exiles ended a nine-match losing streak and was their first over Exeter since a 28-26 victory in Reading on 11 January 2015.
Exeter, who have already secured top spot in the Premiership, featured just three players who were involved in the squad that beat Toulouse in Saturday’s European Champions Cup semi-final.
Irish had the bulk of the possession and territory in the opening quarter of the game but had little to show for it as Paddy Jackson missed two penalties while Ollie Hassell-Collins had a pass intercepted with an overlap developing.
Jackson eventually got Irish on the scoreboard with his third penalty attempt before Exeter struck with their first foray into Irish territory as Witty was forced over after multiple phases on the Irish line.
Cornish replied soon after from close range after Ben Loader’s excellent 30-metre run saw him swerve past three defenders to set up field position, but Exeter were again ruthless in the Irish 22 as Devoto showed excellent strength to force his way over.
The hosts were aiming for more points in the final moments of the half, but Harvey Skinner’s pass was intercepted by Rona just outside his own 22 and the Australia centre raced the length of the field to score for Irish – a moment that proved critical as the second half unfolded.
Hendrickson’s try 10 minutes after the break was almost identical to Rona’s as he picked off a loose pass from Cornish to run three quarters of the field and score in a bitty second period that saw Exeter lose young number eight Aaron Hinkley with what looked to be a nasty knee injury.
With six minutes to go, Irish went in front for the fourth and final time as Argentine hooker Creevy found himself at the bottom of a maul after a five-metre line-out to secure a deserved victory.
Exeter: Dollman; Cordero, Hendrickson, Devoto, Woodburn; Skinner, Townsend; Keast, Innard, Street, Witty, Price, Capstick, Armand (capt), Hinkley.
Replacements: Taione, Kenny, Petch, Dennis, Wright, Maunder, Walsh, Baldwin.
London Irish: Homer; Loader, Rona, Cokanasiga, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, Meehan; Elrington, Cornish, Hoskins, Nott, de Chaves, Rogerson (capt), Donnell, Tuisue.
Replacements: Creevy, Goodrick-Clarke, Chawatama, Munga, Cooke, Phipps, Brophy Clews, Stokes.