Exeter win it the hard way to fulfil Tony Rowe’s Europe ambition | Robert Kitson

Having led 28-17 losing Tomas Francis to the sin-bin set up a final act of pure agony before the euphoria

Once upon a time in the west there was a team who made their region proud. What a shame there were no supporters in the ground to witness the ultimate moment in Exeter’s 149-year history but there was no silencing the Devonian roars at the final whistle. A grey day in Bristol was suddenly replaced by a haze of purple euphoria and pure relief.

Goodness, though, this was tense. A flawed classic, perhaps, but a 14-man Exeter had to win it the hard way. Having led 28-17 thanks to a priceless interception score finished by the ever-classy Henry Slade, the loss of Tomas Francis to the sin-bin for a finger-tip knock-on close to his own line set up a final act of pure agony.

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Exeter win it the hard way to fulfil Tony Rowe’s Europe ambition | Robert Kitson