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Outlandish Sam Simmonds effort not enough for Exeter in Montpellier

By PA
Sam Simmonds /Getty

Sam Simmonds scored three tries yet still ended on the losing side as Exeter went down 37-26 to Montpellier in the Heineken Champions Cup.

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Montpellier’s victory earned them a place in the top eight in Pool A and and a round-of-16 meeting with English champions Harlequins, while the Chiefs will take on Munster.

The home win also ended Glasgow’s hopes of staying in the tournament.

Montpellier director of rugby Phillipe Saint-Andre was able to field a near full-strength team a week on from their 89-7 annihilation in Dublin against Leinster and, after being rocked by a third-minute try from Sam Simmonds, the home side took firm control through their huge pack.

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Sam Simmonds got the first of his three tries as he burst around the front of a close-range line-out and powered through three tacklers to score in the left corner.

It gave Exeter a great start, yet by the time the game was half-an-hour old Montpellier had responded with 24 unanswered points.

With only three of last weekend’s side in their squad, they took the lead with a try from full- back Anthony Bouthier that owed everything to his wing Gabriel Ngandebe.

He gathered a box kick on his 10 metre line and exploded through the heart of the Exeter defensive line before giving Bouthier a simple run in to the posts.

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Louis Foursans added the routine conversion and then added the extras to tries from French lock Paul Willemse, from close range, and former South Africa centre Jan Serfontein in the left corner.

He then punished Luke Cowan-Dickie for a no-arms tackle by kicking a penalty to extend the lead to 19 points.

The Chiefs had been under the pump, but two tries in the space of four minutes got them right back into the contest.

That man Sam Simmonds powered through another three would-be tacklers to score from five metres out and then centre Sean O’Brien picked off a floated midfield pass from home prop Enzo Forletta and raced 40 metres to the line.

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Joe Simmonds converted them both and Stuart Hogg got over the line on the stroke of half-time but was adjudged to have knocked on before grounding after catching a chip ahead by Joe Simmonds.

That meant the former champions were five points down at the break, but it did not take long for them to regain the lead.

Once again it was the England and British and Irish Lions number eight Sam Simmonds who did the damage as he completed his hat-trick with another unstoppable close-range burst.

That made it seven tries for this season’s tournament and his brother’s conversion edged the Chiefs in front at 26-24.

Montpellier needed to take one point from the game to knock Glasgow out of the top eight.

Foursans regained the lead for them with a straightforward penalty in the 66th minute and then Springbok scrum half Cobus Reinach intercepted a Sam Maunder pass 10 metres from his line and raced all the way to the other end.

That guaranteed a try bonus-point, and a seventh French team into the round of 16, and Italy international Paulo Garbisi added the conversion.

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