Exeter number eight Sam Simmonds scored a hat-trick of tries as the Chiefs got their Premiership title defence off to a winning start with a bonus-point 33-3 victory over Harlequins at the Stoop.
Just 27 days since securing last season’s crown, the champions looked rusty in the opening quarter but a superb solo effort from Simmonds turned the game the Chiefs’ way.
After the interval, the outstanding Simmonds added two more scores with Dave Ewers and Stu Townsend also on the tryscoring sheet.
Joe Simmonds added four conversions with a penalty from Marcus Smith being Quins’ sole response.
Smith began by missing a straightforward 30-metre kick but after 13 minutes the outside half was on target from a similar range to give Quins an early lead.
However, two minutes later the home side suffered a blow when lock Matt Symons was led from the field with a leg injury to be replaced by Glen Young.
Smith’s penalty was the only score of an evenly-contested opening 20 minutes, but the try-line was barely threatened with the sole highlight coming from a excellent 40-metre run out of defence from Chiefs’ full-back Facundo Cordero.
Harlequins had been marginally the better side but the visitors stunned them by conjuring up a superb try.
On halfway, skilfully timed passing allowed Sam Simmonds to burst through a huge hole in the home defence before the number eight showed express pace to hold off the covering defenders for a breathtaking score.
Brother Joe converted before his side became the dominant force for the remainder of the half, although they were unable to add to their tally as their relentless attack was repelled with some crunching tackles from the Quins, who trailed 7-3 at the interval.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 20, 2020
After the restart, Chiefs maintained the pressure and they extended their lead when an unstoppable drive from a line-out saw Ewers crash over.
The hosts continued to contest fiercely but Smith’s tactical kicking was ill-directed and the penalty count went firmly against them so they could not build up any real momentum in attack.
Exeter lost Cordero with an injury but they were able to introduce Luke Cowan-Dickie with the hooker returning after minor knee surgery.
The visitors had a chance to seal victory but Joe Simmonds elected for an attacking line-out in preference to kicking at goal. It proved to be the wrong option as Chiefs overthrew the line-out and lost possession.
With nine minutes, a similar opportunity arose and this time Exeter made no mistake with Simmonds crashing over from a driving line-out before the back-row forward powered away from 20 metres to complete his hat-trick.
Quins were out on their feet and in the last minute they conceded a fifth try, a close range effort from replacement Townsend.
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