Sam Simmonds backed for British and Irish Lions selection
It is three years this month since Simmonds won the last of his seven England caps.
But his continued imperious form is underlined by the fact that he now needs just four more touchdowns with almost half the regular Premiership season left to equal the league try record for one campaign that is jointly held by Christian Wade and Dominic Chapman.
Asked about Simmonds’ possible Lions credentials, Exeter head coach Ali Hepher said: “That’s what Lions tours are about – that quality of player playing with quality players.
“He’s got that ability, with his pace, to be a game-changer in any game. He is of international standard and should be playing (at that standard).
Seen enough. I think Sam Simmonds would be dynamite in a Lions shirt. ?
— Owain Jones (@OwainJTJones) March 6, 2021
“But it is what it is, and he has just got to keep on working week in, week out here. You never know where he might get to if he keeps performing well for us.
“He is three years on (from his last England appearance), and he has developed the defensive side of his game – it’s way, way better.
“He still has that explosiveness and he is stronger, naturally, as a player. That development that three years gives you is invaluable.
“He demands a lot of himself and demands a lot of the team. He is wanting to put his best foot forward and will continue to get better because that is the way we work.”
Sam Simmonds will not be denied, that's 13 tries for the season now ?
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) March 6, 2021
But the Chiefs, striving to avoid a third successive Premiership defeat, responded brilliantly, with lock Sam Skinner and wing Tom O’Flaherty each claiming two touchdowns, while Simmonds and Scotland second-row forward Jonny Gray also scored tries.
Joe Simmonds kicked four conversions, with Priestland kicking another penalty for Bath, who were ultimately overpowered despite England flanker Sam Underhill making a strong first appearance since January after recovering from a hip injury.
"A No8 with pace off the base of the scrum, getting over the gain line…"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 6, 2021
While Exeter climbed back into second place in the table behind Bristol, Bath’s impressive recent run of results came to an end.
Successive victories over Sale Sharks, Gloucester and Northampton left them in good shape to face the reigning league champions, but things unravelled after a bright start as Exeter scored 26 second-half points.
“It was a good start, but against a team like this (Exeter), all the little things add up,” Bath rugby director Stuart Hooper told BT Sport.
“And we didn’t get enough of them right. The top four (in the Premiership) is still achievable, and we reboot and go again against Newcastle next weekend.”
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