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Ali Hepher hails 'top quality' Henry Slade after Exeter beat Wasps

Henry Slade put in a man of the match performance as the champions beat Wasps. Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Ali Hepher hailed an impressive performance by Exeter's England hopeful Henry Slade after the Chiefs stung Wasps 31-17 at Sandy Park.

Slade, who started both Tests in Argentina three months ago, is a leading contender for England's No. 13 shirt in the autumn series opener against the Pumas at Twickenham on Nov. 11.

And after creating two of Exeter's five tries in a win that saw the champions reclaim top spot in the Aviva Premiership, he departed for England's training camp in Oxford with the Chiefs head coach singing his praises.

"Sladey has been playing very well all season," Hepher said. "He is an incredibly driven bloke, a highly-motivated lad.

"The pace he is taking the ball at now is really helping him, and he has got the ability on the ball. I am really chuffed with how he is going.

"He is defending as well as any centre in the Premiership, and he is starting to round off into a really top quality player.

"All he can do is to keep performing the way he is doing."

Seven times-capped Slade is producing consistent top form almost two years after breaking his leg, and Hepher added: "People see the skills and the time he has on the ball, but often they don't associate that with the drive and belief he has.

"When he broke his leg a couple of years ago, he got back playing in ridiculous record time.

"It is pretty obvious to see when you work with him day in, day out. You know how committed he is to it."

Hepher, meanwhile, reported that Chiefs No. 8 Sam Simmonds was "up and about" after being carried off following a crunching first-half collision with his opposite number Nathan Hughes.

Reflecting on the result, Wasps rugby director Dai Young said: "It [Sandy Park] is always a tough place to come, but if you give any team 60 percent possession and 60 percent territory, let alone the champions, it is going to be a hard day at the office. That was pretty much the case today.

"They had far too much ball in the wrong areas of the field for us. You have got to give them some credit for that, but we kept on giving them the ball back.

"If you give them that many opportunities to run at you, the dam is going to bust at some point.

"I am disappointed that we are not really firing any shots of our own. I thought there was more bite about everything we did today, but we just lack composure, patience and accuracy."