Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs kick off campaign with bonus-point win at Castres

Exeter Chiefs got their Champions Cup campaign off to the perfect start as they beat Castres 27-12 with a bonus-point at Stade Pierre Fabre.

Scores from Sam Simmonds, Dave Ewers, Jack Maunder and Olly Woodburn saw them to victory, with Joe Simmonds adding seven points off the tee.

Julien Dumora slotted four penalty goals for Castres, who will be disappointed with their opening performance on home soil as they were well beaten.

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It was the perfect way for Exeter to celebrate the news director of rugby Rob Baxter and coaches Ali Hepher, Rob Hunter and Ricky Pellow had all signed long-term contract extensions earlier in the week.

The Chiefs scored two first-half tries to take a grip on proceedings, but then allowed their hosts to stay in the fight by conceding a stream of penalties.

That allowed Castres full-back Dumora to score four penalties to level the game at 12-12 at the break, but Exeter ran out comfortable winners in the second half.

The breakthrough for the Chiefs came in the 19th minute when Sam Simmonds took a pop pass from scrum-half Maunder and raced 20 metres to score the opening points with a try in the left corner.

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That was nothing less than the more creative Chiefs deserved for their efforts and 10 minutes later they grabbed a second try when Ewers finished off a drive to the line by Sam Simmonds to cross from five metres out.

This time Joe Simmonds had no problem in adding the extras and the Chiefs were 12-3 ahead. But by the break it was all square as Dumora kept punishing the Exeter mistakes with his accurate kicking.

Four minutes into the second half Castres lost wing Geoffrey Palis to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock down as the Chiefs attacked. The penalty was kicked to the corner and it did not take long for the third try to come.

The forwards secured the line-out, drove for the try-line and eventually Maunder picked up and dived over.

With 14-men the home side picked up their effort and had two scrums five metres out from the Exeter line yet failed to make them pay.

Canadian number eight Tyler Ardron eventually picked up from the second scrum, was chopped down by Sam Simmonds and Ewers turned the ball over. No sooner had Exeter saved their line than they once again went into attack mode.

Stuart Hogg broke free up the right flank, raced up to the 22 and then sent Woodburn up the touchline and then around to the post for the bonus-point try.

That came on the hour mark and Joe Simmonds added the extras and then a penalty to make the Champions Cup game safe.

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