Exeter 33-14 La Rochelle: Chiefs secure home Champions Cup quarter-final
|Heineken Champions Cup Pool Two|
|Exeter (14) 33|
|Tries: Cowan-Dickie, Ewers, S Simmonds 2, Townsend Cons: J Simmonds 4|
|La Rochelle (14) 14|
|Tries: Murimurivalu, Penalty Try Cons: West|
Exeter secured a first home Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final with a bonus-point win against La Rochelle.
Luke Cowan-Dickie's try was a promising start for Chiefs and La Rochelle responded through Kini Murimurivalu.
Dave Ewers regained the lead for Exeter but his work was undone when the French side were given a penalty try after Stuart Hogg's deliberate knock-on.
Sam Simmonds' two tries earned the bonus point, before Stu Townsend added a fifth to seal victory.
The result means Exeter are guaranteed to finish as one of the top four seeds, meaning their quarter-final will take place at Sandy Park.
|Heineken Champions Cup Pool Two|
- Full Champions Cup pool standings
- Saracens to be relegated from Premiership at end of season
- Leinster earn home quarter-final with win at Benetton
Exeter pull away in second half
Exeter had clinched their spot in the last eight with last week's draw at Glasgow and looked intent on maintaining their unbeaten Champions Cup record from the outset.
The hosts formed a maul off a line-out, allowing Cowan-Dickie to score, but La Rochelle - who were already out of contention in the Champions Cup - soon hit back.
The French side were awarded a scrum under the posts and sent the ball left to Murimurivalu, who barrelled his way through three Chiefs defenders for his try.
Exeter flanker Ewers then picked the ball up from the base of a ruck and scrambled over the line before Hogg was given a yellow card for the deliberate knock-on that led to La Rochelle's penalty try, leaving the scores level at half-time.
Exeter started strongly after the break, taking a quick penalty to give Simmonds the chance to dive over and take them ahead once more.
The hosts then drove a scrum across the tryline to allow Simmonds to claim his second try before Townsend finished off an attack which started from 70m out to put Exeter firmly out of reach.
Chiefs could book a potential semi-final at Sandy Park too if this win betters both Racing 92 and Toulouse's results in their respective fixtures against Saracens and Gloucester on Sunday.
'A home quarter-final is hugely satisfying' - what they said
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter said:
"It is hugely satisfying [to be at home in the quarter-finals]. It gives us everything we want out of the competition, which is an opportunity for as many of our supporters to watch it as possible, and it obviously cuts down on the travelling.
"When you get to the last eight in Europe, you are not going to have an easy game. There is not going to be a team that is not quality. It's going to be a humdinger, whoever we play."
Exeter Chiefs: Hogg; Nowell, Whitten, Hill, Woodburn; J Simmonds, Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Dennis (c), Hill, Ewers, Vermeulen, S Simmonds.
Replacements: Taione, Moon, Pieretto Heiland, Kirsten, Kvesic, Townsend, Steenson, Devoto.
La Rochelle: Rattez; Murimurivalu, Doumayrou, Aguillon, Retiere; West, Berjon; Priso, Bourgarit, Atonio, Sazy (c), Leroux,Timani, Kieft, Alldritt.
Replacements: Bosch, Aouf, Puafisi, Lavault, Liebenberg, Bales, James, Roudil.
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