Gloucester 34-18 Exeter Chiefs: Josh Hodge scores a try by the season contender, but the champion’s second tier suffers defeat at Kingsholm
- Gloucester’s experience eventually recounted a much-needed win for hosts
- Josh Hodge produced the moment of the game with a spectacular solo attempt
- But the 20-year-old’s magic lost effort and Exeter Chiefs fell short
Josh Hodge spectacularly beat Gloucester’s international flyers at Kingsholm with a try-of-the-season contender, but Exeter’s second series failed to keep title momentum.
The 20-year-old produced a glorious individual sparkle when he landed for the first time since joining the Newcastle Chiefs last summer.
In the process, Hodge provided a striking antidote to the gloom in English rugby after the national team’s terrible Six Nations campaign.
Josh Hodge scored an incredible try for Exeter in a losing effort for the Chiefs
Gloucester showed that they are capitalizing on the experience for a much-needed victory over Kingsholm
A year ago England head coach Eddie Jones added Hodge to his championship team as an ‘apprentice’ – and the way he single-handedly hacked open Gloucester’s defenses showed why the Lancaster tyro is seen as special.
With a home side with England’s Jonny May on one wing and Wales sensation Louis Rees-Zammit on the other, Hodge proved he can live in such lofty company.
It was the seventh minute of this West Country Premiership game when the No. 15 visitors got a box-kick from Willi Heinz deep in his own half.
He took off across the field, running from right to left, dashed past Billy Twelvetrees and sent Rees-Zammit down with a hand-off, before leaving Santiago Carreras in his vapor trail with a stunning drift and acceleration to score on the left.
The subsequent conversion was missed by Harvey Skinner, but the attempt was a big hit – widely watched and praised on social media as the news spread.
While Hodge took down the empty house, May had a frustrating first half – after a very frustrating Six Nations.
Hodge dreamed up the most memorable moment in the game and Eddie Jones must have seen it
In the end, a second run of Exeter team failed to keep up with the team’s momentum
The prolific England finisher was denied a second-minute attempt when his foot made fractional contact with the left sideline before making a bouncy, stretching effort to ground the ball.
He was later similarly denied when Hodge managed to get him out.
Twelvetrees had a stint in the sin-bin for a swinging arm in Hodge’s neck and jaw, but two tries by hooker Henry Walker out of lineout drives kept Gloucester in play, while Don Armand also went to Exeter for halftime.
Gloucester regained the lead in the 53rd minute as a reward for continued pressure.
The hosts got a free kick into the Chiefs 22 and took full advantage. Strong drives softened Exeter’s defenses before Charlie Chapman rushed through a hole to land.
Louis Rees-Zammit was back in action and played for Wales in the Six Nations
George Barton added the conversion and a penalty just before the hour to make it 24-15 as the Devonian discipline began to unravel.
But Hodge showed that he can stand his ground both defensively and offensively – by stopping Rees-Zammit with a hammer tack and then bravely diving to claim the ball at his feet.
Another Skinner penalty kept the undersized Chiefs on the hunt until Barton on the other side was back on target and a last-gasp penalty took a morale-boosting victory for George Skivington’s team.