Sep 03, 2018
Match Report: Storm 24-47 Exeter Braves
Saracens Storm suffered an opening round Premiership Rugby Shield defeat to Exeter Braves in a physical affair, full of flair at Allianz Park.
James McRae crossed prior to a bit of Matt Gallagher magic then the visitors were given a penalty try for their scrum dominance.
Hooker Tadgh McElroy grabbed a brace off the bench only to be cancelled out by Tom Lawday and Jack Innard before Michele Campagnaro put a bit of breathing space between the two sides.
Scrum-half-turned-winger Tom Whiteley made things interesting late on but second tries Lawday and Innard quashed any potential comeback.
Storm lost a vast amount of experience before kick-off with Schalk Burger withdrawing and they were punished in the opening exchanges by Exeter’s old heads.
Former Sarrie James Short carved his way through the heart of the defence, offloaded for Italy international Campagnaro to scamper and he popped to McRae to trot in under the posts.
It was the wake up call the hosts needed and they responded in fine fettle. Elliot Obatoyinbo danced down the touchline and his pass was inches away from setting Reuben Bird-Tulloch free before another member of Saracens’ back three produced a scintillating bit of play.
On Exeter’s 10-metre, Gallagher brushed off six white shirts, scything his way in behind and all the way to the line.
Braves responded admirably and edged further ahead when referee Jack Makepeace ran under the sticks, awarding the away side seven points and sin-binning Whiteley in the process but Storm turned the screw thereafter.
Another beautiful bit of awareness from Gallagher saw the full-back stride into open field with Andy Christie, Bird-Tulloch and Jon Kpoku in support but when Hayden Thompson-Stringer took a dive at the whitewash, too many bodies were in the way to see a clear grounding.
Adam Powell’s men were rewarded for their attacking intent moments later. Replacement McElroy squeezed over after several phases and when Whiteley returned from the bin and with their full XV on the field, Storm turned it on.
Jack Nay combined with Obatoyinbo down the right and Bird-Tulloch’s cute chip was well-fielded by Dom Morris who wrapped up his man to win a penalty. A kick to the corner followed and McElroy benefitted from a wicked driving maul.
Exeter replicated the Irishman’s second just before the break; Lawday flopping on the ball and Sam Maunder converting to give the West Country outfit a two-point lead.
That was extended to seven early in the second period; Innard profiting following strong forward work.
The game slowed due to a number of substitutions until Ali Crossdale sparked it back into life with quick feet to release Morris, only for the winger to be thwarted in the 22.
Campagnaro showed his class to stroll home and Lawday and Innard each added a second following Whiteley’s dot down.