Had anyone ask for a hattrick and a victory for their birthday, many would have thought it too much of an ask. However, Zach Kibirige came close to this feat as he did well to cross over three times in the game today. However the latter wish was spoilt by a standout performance by Max Bodilly. Bodilly ended his evening with a brace as the Newcastle Falcons and Exeter Rugby shared the spoils at Kingston Park. A conversion by Harvey Skinny in the 70th minute brought an interesting end to the battle which either side could have won today.
Both sides came into the game looking for victories in the opening round of the Premiership Rugby Cup and the game was not for a minute short of entertainment. Today's top performers are:
Max Bodilly - Exeter Chiefs
Many will remember him for the two tries he scored in the LV Cup final against Saracens (who would go on to win the competition). However, his performance was today was no different. Every single time he got his hands on the ball the defence must have been shivering as he looked a threat throughout the game. The defence could not hold him out for too long, he went on to score two brilliantly worked tries. The second of his tries came off loose ball which Bodilly gathered and ran a full length of the field.
Zach Kibirige - Newcastle Falcons
He looked a threat from the onset as he latched onto a pass from Sam Stuart to crossover for the first of his hattrick of tries. Stuart and Kibirige would prove what a danger they are on attack once again. This time the nippy scrumhalf put in a grubber kick following a ruck on the 5m. The 24 year old winger chased it down well to dot down for his second. It was his third that earned him a Man of the Match performance. Just before the hour mark, the birthday boy chipped and chased his kick down, crashing over for the all-important try.
Wilhelm van der Sluys - Exeter Chiefs
While this afternoon was a great day for attacking rugby, we can't put aside the fact that defence is equally important. Van der Sluys' defensive effort proved to be as imperative as the tries scored out there today. The South African lock who was schooled at the world renowned Paarl Boys' High School was solid on defence today as he wrapped up a number of players. This included 10 tackles in the opening 30 minutes.
Ryan Burrows - Newcastle Falcons
A real captains run out there today. Only a year ago the 30 year old back-row was plying it out for Yorkshire Carnegie and today he showed why he was named Carnegie's player of the season for the 2016/17 season. He has always been known for his defensive effort and today was no different as he stole and slowed down the opposition ball a number of times. He also did well to lead out a fairly young and exciting side out on the park today.