Wasps 23-27 Exeter: Cowan-Dickie limps off with ankle injury

Wasps 23-27 Exeter: England left to sweat over the fitness of hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie after he limped off to sour Chiefs’ gritty win in Coventry

  • Exeter Chiefs came from behind to beat Wasps 23-27 on Saturday afternoon
  • England will be sweating over the fitness of Luke Cowan-Dickie, who limped off 
  • The 28-year-old Cowan-Dickie rolled his left ankle in the clash in Coventry
  • Eddie Jones is set to announce his squad for the end-of-year Tests on Monday

There was little doubt who Richard Cockerill was messaging when he flashed up on the big screen midway through the second half. 

Wasps had just defended their try-line for 11 minutes, smashing back Exeter runners until Luke Cowan-Dickie’s left ankle gave way.

The Lions hooker had barely hobbled to the touchline before Cockerill was on the phone. Less than 48 hours before England’s squad announcement for the autumn internationals, it was not the message Eddie Jones wanted.

‘It’s never good to see Luke coming off because he’s as tough as they come,’ said Exeter coach Ali Hepher. ‘We will assess it on Monday and see how it settles down.’

Exeter Chiefs edged an enthralling contest in Coventry as they defeated Wasps on Saturday

The news took the shine off Exeter’s dogged, second-half victory. It was a long way from the Chiefs’ peak, championship-winning performances but it was just enough to overcome a Wasps squad ravaged by their own injuries.

At half-time, Wasps were in front. Although Henry Slade had given the visitors an early lead, capitalising on Josh Bassett’s yellow card, Exeter struggled to find their rhythm. They were hit hard by defenders, with seven of the Wasps pack making more than 20 tackles each.

While Cowan-Dickie was the pedigree hooker on show, here he was outshone by his lesser-known opponent.

Dan Frost is the fourth-choice No 2 at Wasps, having spent most of his career in the Championship, yet he showed flashes of brilliance in attack. Wasps backed their driving maul, with Frost and Thomas Young both scoring set-piece tries before the break.

‘We went into a bit of a safe mode before half time and that lost us big games last year,’ said Hepher.

‘We took our foot off the pedal. At half-time we had to point out that a few guys were drifting around the field.

‘Wasps dug in and never made it easy for us. They repelled us. The pleasing thing is that we didn’t let ourselves drift mentally. We could easily have had some negative thoughts but we stayed strong and kept coming back. We showed fight in the second half.’

From the moment Jack Nowell stole the restart for the second-half, Exeter were camped down in Wasps territory. The hosts tackled and tackled, throwing bodies into the cogs of the Chiefs machine.

It was a performance that wasn’t the peak of the Chiefs’ powers but it was enough for victory

They conceded six penalties in the process and Frost was sin-binned, yet their tryline was not breached. The passage ended with a Brad Shields turnover and the injury to Cowan-Dickie, who was advised to leave the stadium in a protective boot.

Just to rub it in, Wasps broke down field and moved further ahead through a Jimmy Gopperth penalty.

The hosts were short of big-name firepower on the bench and Exeter eventually struck back.

Sam Simmonds was first, scoring from the base of a scrum, on his way to another man-of-the-match award and potentially his first England cap since 2018.

‘I’m sure those England coaches will be watching,’ said Hepher. ‘His pace is a different level to anything in the Premiership and the northern hemisphere. He created space and his fight and momentum was there to be seen.

England will be sweating over the fitness of Luke Cowan-Dickie after he limped off injured

‘All Sam can do is keep turning up and performances like that won’t go unnoticed. They’re international class.

‘How long we’ll be able to keep him for, I don’t know. He’s certainly up there with the very best.’

Wasps were clinging on but they spilled the ball in attack and Slade launched a huge 50-22 kick to set up an attacking lineout. They made it pay.

Hepher insisted this week’s fallout over the Chiefs’ Native American identity had not been mentioned before the match, yet the guttural celebrations for Jonny Hill’s 68th-minute try were the look of a team whose feathers had been ruffled.

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