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'Phenomenal' - Exeter Chiefs' Ali Hepher hails former British and Irish Lions winger Alex Cutbert

By PA

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Exeter Chiefs’ assistant coach Ali Hepher praised the performances of former Wales wing Alex Cuthbert, whose excellent solo try was the highlight of Chiefs’ 26-3 win over London Irish at Sandy Park.

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Playing with the advantage of a keen wind, Exeter had been held to a 14-3 scoreline at the interval but three minutes after the restart, Cuthbert powered away to brush aside defenders on a 35-metre run to the line before being replaced.

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Sam Simmonds scored two of Exeter’s tries to take his tally 11 for the season, with flanker Dave Ewers also on the scoresheet. Joe Simmonds converted two and Harvey Skinner one, while a penalty from Paddy Jackson was London Irish’s sole response.

Hepher said: “You can see what a phenomenal player Alex is and he is everything you would want from a winger.

“After being out for so long with injury, he’s been remarkable in the last two games and his try was the defining moment of the match.

“We need to look after him and get as many minutes on the pitch as we can from him, so we took him off as a precautionary measure as his back was tightening up.”

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It was Exeter’s third consecutive win as they moved within one point of Bristol at the top of the Premiership table with nine rounds completed.

Hepher said: “We have had to fight hard in the last three weeks to beat some tough sides. It was again a hard-fought win today but it was important that we picked up a bonus point to keep the pressure on Bristol as we have left a few behind this season.

“We probably were a try short at the interval but we had put a lot of effort into the first half to build a foundation and there wasn’t any panic as we know how to play into the win by keeping the ball.”

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Irish’s director of rugby Declan Kidney urged his team to learn from the game.

“Exeter gave us a beating today and we know we have to improve quickly,” he said, “If we don’t, the result will be the same against Bristol next week.

“We will have to work on certain areas and it didn’t help that we had a lot of injuries which caused disruption, but that’s part and parcel of the game and we needed to work round it.”

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'Phenomenal' - Exeter Chiefs' Ali Hepher hails former British and Irish Lions winger Alex Cutbert

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