- Budgen’s late score keeps the Chiefs at 100 per cent
- Bristol trim Exeter’s lead by a point after defeating Birmingham
Prop Chris Budgen was the hero as Exeter maintained their perfect start to the season with a narrow 14-9 win over the Doncaster Knights at Castle Park.
The Chiefs’ 100 per cent Championship record was in danger with the score tied at nine-all and the clock ticking down but Budgen bulldozed over with four minutes remaining to win the game.
Earlier opposing fly halves Gareth Steenson (Exeter) and Ali Warnock of Doncaster had exchanged kicks to keep the score tight.
Exeter’s 12 wins from 12 is their best ever start to a season and they have scored the most tries, 73, in the division so far while boasting the leading points scorer in Steenson.
For a full statistical review of the Championship season to date, please download the Championship Review – Week 12 (PDF 152kB).
Bristol Rugby closed the gap on Exeter by a single point after a bonus point victory over Birmingham & Solihull Bees at the Memorial Ground.
Scores from centre Junior Fatialofa, back row Ross Johnston and scrum half Robbie Shaw were added to by a penalty try to settle the game and cut the gap at the top to five points.
Photo: Simon Bryant
Late drama at Billesley Common
A late score also decided the match between Cornish Pirates and Molesey, when Nick Jackson’s late try was converted to take the Pirates to a 20-19 win.
Jackson’s score came three minutes from time, completing a second-half turnaround after the visitors had trailed 19-0 at half time.
Nottingham remain in third place despite slipping to their fourth straight Championship defeat, going down 19-14 at London Welsh at Old Deer Park.
All tries came in the first half as Jonathan Mills and Dan George got the hosts out to an early lead but when they were reduced to 13 men, Dan Hemmingway replied for the Green and Whites.
Coventry surged back from 15-0 down to draw 15-all with local rivals Bedford Blues at the Ricoh Arena.
First half tries from Bedford’s Ollie Dodge and Liam Roberts looked to have secured the fourth placed side the victory but a brace from Aaron Carpenter and one from Jamie Hall grabbed a point.
Elsewhere, Plymouth Albion enjoyed a narrow 20-15 home win over Rotherham Titans.