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'What a player, what a record, what an achievement!': Lions pick Sam Simmonds needs just 24 minutes at Irish to shatter 23-year-old Premiership try-scoring mark

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Lions squad pick Sam Simmonds needed just 24 minutes at the Brentford Community Stadium to score the two tries for Exeter that have made him the all-time record try-scorer in a single Gallagher Premiership season. The Chiefs No8, who levered himself into the Lions squad despite not having played at Test level for England since March 2018, came into the Tuesday night fixture at London Irish having scored 16 tries in his 17 Premiership appearances so far this season. 

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That left him poised just a single try behind the 23-year-old record of 17 top-flight tries in a single season set by Richmond’s Dominic Chapman in 1997/98, a tally equalled by Christian Wade of Wasps in the 2016/17 season. Having opened the scoring at Irish after just seven minutes to draw level on the try-scoring chart with Chapman and Wade, Simmonds then went on to set a new record 17 minutes later when he dived over the line from close range. 

It left BT Sport rugby pundit Lawrence Dallaglio, the former England skipper and three-time Lions tourist, in raptures over what he had just witnessed from his fellow back-rower. “That is some tree (to be top of),” enthused the ex-No8. “That is a challenge to the wingers, to the backs in the English Gallagher Premiership. Top of the tree now is that forward and my word he has deserved it.

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“The first one was explosive power from a couple of yards away and he had the strength to get it down. That (second) one, all the hard work from Luke Cowan-Dickie bringing it right to the line and then it’s the body height, the body position, driven over the line. What a player, what a record, what an achievement!

“It’s London Irish 7 Simmonds 19, isn’t it at the moment. It’s quite incredible the impact that both of these boys are having on their side,” added Dallaglio after Joe Simmonds, Sam’s younger brother, landed the conversion, his third on the night. He had also scored his own try on 19 minutes, leaving the two brothers accounting for all of Exeter’s first-half points in a game they led 19-12 at the interval.

Exeter boss Rob Baxter added to the praise of Simmonds when interviewed early in the second half. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “We have said to the lads all season if we want to have a big season players need to have a big season. You build a team on the performances of the individuals and we talked a lot about them having their personal best season in whatever way they could and for us, this [Simmonds’ record] is just a shining example.

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“The guys know how hard he has worked for us week in week out. That kind of thing creates a structure that allows him to thrive and the guys get him over the line. He is good at it, he is a power-packed kind of guy but the lads work hard to get him over the line as well. Last week Dave Ewers carried him over the line twice and that kind of quality in a team is what makes the whole thing function.”

Simmonds went on to make his great night even better when he dived in at the corner on 71 minutes to complete his hat-trick in the 31-12 win. That moved his record for a single season on to 19 tries and also brought up the 50-tries-scored mark in his career total of 66 Premiership appearances for Exeter.

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'What a player, what a record, what an achievement!': Lions pick Sam Simmonds needs just 24 minutes at Irish to shatter 23-year-old Premiership try-scoring mark

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