Exeter leave the capital with the bonus-point win that restores them to second in the Premiership
Sam Simmonds became the leading try-scorer in a Gallagher Premiership season as Exeter swept aside London Irish 31-12 at Brentford Community Stadium. Simmonds plundered his 17th, 18th and 19th tries to eclipse the previous milestone jointly held by Dominic Chapman and Christian Wade with three rounds of the regular season still to play.
The first two were trademark Exeter as Simmonds burrowed over from close range, while the third was a high-speed run-in, each demonstrating the try-scoring prowess that has booked his place on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa this summer.
The No8 has been out of favour with England since 2018 when he won the last of his seven caps and Eddie Jones was in the stands to witness the latest stellar moment of a remarkable season. Simmonds struck twice inside the opening quarter to eclipse a mark of 17 set in the 1997/98 campaign and with younger brother Joe and Tom O’Flaherty also crossing, Exeter left the capital with a bonus-point win that restores them to second in the table.
But a crowd of 3,988 saw them forced to dig deep at times as they inflicted a fourth successive defeat on Irish, who crossed through Ben Donnell and Ben Loader and rallied impressively after a poor start. It took Simmonds just seven minutes to equal the record when he forced his way over to finish a pick and go barrage that began with a lineout.
Irish responded with a similar try scored by Donnell that was only awarded when Paddy Jackson requested that it be reviewed by the TMO having initially been ruled out by referee Christophe Ridley. It was all too easy as Joe Simmonds ran in Exeter’s second, capitalising on O’Flaherty winning the ball in the air to spot Lovejoy Chawatama in midfield and easily round the prop before switching on the afterburners to cross.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 18, 2021
And to continue the Simmonds show that was unfolding in west London, Sam wrote his name into the history books with another close-quarter score as the Chiefs’ forward power made its mark. While defensively vulnerable Irish have few problems engineering tries and in the 34th minute, they showed their ruthless streak when Stuart Hogg was tackled while attempting a clearance and several phases later Loader was over.
The Exiles staged another promising attack as they looked to overturn a 19-12 deficit but the move broke down and it was Exeter who finished the half the stronger side. Former Wales star Alex Cuthbert was making his presence felt in defence and attack on his comeback from a hamstring injury, but it was on the other wing where the Chiefs struck next as O’Flaherty pounced on a blunder by Loader to touch down.
O’Flaherty went to the sin-bin for tackling full-back Tom Parton in the air and inevitably Simmonds had the final say when he took Cuthbert’s pass to sprint over and complete his hat-trick.
'I can definitely see it in some of his performances at Cornish Pirates because we were getting all the videos and in the Championship he had a point of difference in pace and power.'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 16, 2021
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now