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Sam Simmonds celebrates Lions call up with two tries as Exeter Chiefs beat Worcester

·20-min read
Sam Simmonds once against proved his class with another fine display for Exeter against Worcester - GETTY IMAGES
Sam Simmonds once against proved his class with another fine display for Exeter against Worcester - GETTY IMAGES

Exeter Chiefs 41-10 Worcester

  • Sam Simmonds scores a brace of tries to equal Thomas Waldrom's record for the most in one campaign by a forward

  • Exeter score 41 unanswered points to moved back to second in the table ​

Sam Simmonds celebrated his British and Irish Lions squad call-up with two more tries as Exeter Chiefs consolidated second place in the Premiership table.

It saw Simmonds set a Premiership record for a forward in one season of 16, and leave him only two touchdowns off setting an all-time league record for most tries in a campaign.

Exeter scored 41 unanswered points after they had trailed 10-0 midway through the first half, and they cut loose in the closing stages by adding three more tries as the Warriors played the last quarter with only 14 men after back-to-back yellow cards.

Exeter forwards coach Rob Hunter hailed Simmonds’ dream week, saying: “It is a fantastic reward for how hard Sam works.

“It is very easy to dismiss how good he is over the ball close to the try line, but as has been recognised, there is a lot more to him than just that.

“It is a special achievement by him and we are really, really pleased for him.”

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The only downside for Chiefs was yet another injury for England winger Jack Nowell, as he limped off after 53 minutes, and Hunter added: “We will see how he is in 24 hours.

“Sometimes it is like that, you get knock-back after knock-back, but he is a very, very professional guy, there is no stone left unturned in terms of his preparation, and sometimes you just get a horrible run of it.”

Worcester head coach Jonathan Thomas commented: "I don’t think the scoreline reflected the game.

“In the first half we played the conditions well and we were disappointed to concede the eight points we did, with a breakaway try when we were in possession, and then the three points came from the long kick from Fin Smith that had went dead.

“Obviously with the strong wind, we needed to score more points, or have a bigger lead at half-time, but I thought tactically we played well, there was a good work rate and I thought our set piece was on top against what is the best team in Europe.

“In the second half, that wasn’t the case, and I think the big thing that killed us in the second half was our discipline.”

Exeter suffered a blow before kick-off, with Scotland international lock Jonny Gray injured in the warm-up and replaced by Sean Lonsdale.

The Chiefs played into the strong wind blowing down Sandy Park in the first half, and the conditions made it a far from attractive spectacle in the opening 40 minutes.

Worcester had a simple but effective game plan, pinning the Chiefs back at every opportunity, and it helped them build a 10-point lead inside 23 minutes against the defending Premiership champions.

A 53-metre penalty by full-back Jamie Shillcock after successive early scrum engagements from the Chiefs was added to 17 minutes later by South African centre Francois Venter’s try.

Exeter full-back Stuart Hogg got caught inside his own 22 after Shillcock’s deep, kick downfield, and Worcester moved the ball left, where Venter cut inside two defenders to score, with Shillcock adding an excellently-judged conversion.

Exeter hit back when Henry Slade answered the disappointment of not being selected for the Lions squad with an excellent individual score. He blocked an attempted grubber kick through on halfway, kicked over a defender, and won the race to the ball, hacking on to score.

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Joe Simmonds slotted a scrum penalty just before half-time, leaving the Chiefs trailing 10-8 at the break but with the elements at their backs to come in the second period.

Tries by Dave Ewers and Sam Simmonds put Exeter in the driving seat early in the second half, and short-handed Worcester conceded three more in the final 18 minutes, with Simmonds again, Stu Townsend and Jacques Vermeulen crossing the whitewash.

Match details

Exeter Chiefs: S Hogg, J Nowell (I Whitten 53), H Slade, O Devoto (H Skinner 69), T O’Flaherty, J Simmonds (capt), J Maunder (S Townsend 55), A Hepburn (B Moon 53), L Cowan-Dickie (J Yeandle 37-ht, 53), T Francis (H Williams 53), S Lonsdale, S Skinner, D Ewers (W Witty 73), J Vermeulen, S Simmonds (R Capstick 63).

Worcester Warriors: J Shillcock, P Humphreys, F Venter, A Beck, A Hearle (H Doel 53), F Smith, F Hougaard (G Simpson 74), E Waller (M Thomas 60), N Annett (I Miller 64), N Schonert (R Palframan 32), A Kitchener (J Batley 55), J Clegg, T Hill (capt), S Lewis (GJ Van Velze 72), M Kvesic (K Hatherell 51).

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe (RFU).

Scoring sequence: 0-3 Shillcock pen, 0-8 Venter try, 0-10 Shillcock con, 5-10 Slade try, 8-10 J Simmonds pen, 13-10 Ewers try, 15-10 J Simmonds con, 20-10 S Simmonds try, 22-10 J Simmonds con, 27-10 S Simmonds try, 32-10 Townsend try, 34-10 J Simmonds con, 39-10 Vermeulen try, 41-10 J Simmonds con.

Yellow cards: Worcester – Lewis 61, Van Velze 77.

03:54 PM

FULL TIME: Exeter 41-10 Worcester

Having gone 10 points behind to a combative and impressive Worcester side Exeter hit their straps and scored 41 unanswered points.

It was as impressive as the weather was foul.

Sam Simmonds (who else?!) scored a brace and in the process equalled Thomas Waldrom's record for the most in one campaign by a forward. That is some way to celebrate being called up by the Lions.

03:52 PM

TRY FOR EXETER!!!! Exeter 41-10 Worcester

There are some tired legs in the Worcester ranks and one last Exeter attack ends with Vermeulen stretching for the tryline in the corner. The onfield decision is try but it goes upstairs and it is, after a lengthy chat, given!

Simmonds hits a fine conversion and that's the game over!

03:48 PM

78 mins: Exeter 34-10 Worcester

Exeter are looking ominously good as the season moves into the business end. They've used conditions to perfection in a way Worcester haven't.

03:48 PM

TRY FOR EXETER!!!! Exeter 34-10 Worcester

It was coming, and Will Townsend uses his bulk to crash over the lien from two metres.

Simmonds J adds the conversion from in front of the posts.

03:46 PM

75 mins: Exeter 27-10 Worcester

Van Velze, on for Lewis, is shown a yellow card for icked the ball out of a ruck. His match lasted all of two minutes.

03:45 PM

73 mins: Exeter 27-10 Worcester

Slade kicks marvellously to set up a lineout five metres from the line.

From the set piece Exeter create driving maul - Witty, just on, crashes through. It comes to Slade and his kick goes over the deadball line.

03:42 PM

71 mins: Exeter 27-10 Worcester

Both sides finding conditions tough and it's become a bit scrappy.

03:37 PM

67 mins: Exeter 27-10 Worcester

Shock! Worcester are in Exeter's 22 - great break from Venter who made light work of Slade and Townsend's weak tackles. But he's held up on the line by Joe Simmonds.

The visitors' trip to the opposition 22 ends by conceding a penalty at the five-metre scrum and Exeter clear their lines.

03:34 PM

Super Sam's first score

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03:34 PM

64 mins: Exeter 27-10 Worcester

That was some way to celebrate getting called up to the Lions, two tries and a Premiership record.

That's his game over, though, as he's substituted for Capstick.

03:32 PM

TRY FOR EXETER!!! Exeter 27-10 Worcester

The conditions are getting worse -didn't think that was possible at half time - Exeter keep the ball in the pack they follow from crash ball with another and they have advantage after advantage - Worcester are continually offside.

Exeter tap and go and eventually the ball comes to Sam Simmonds and he scores another! The try bonus is secured! `

That try means Simmonds equals Thomas Waldrom's record for the most in one campaign by a forward

Simmonds J doesn't add the extras.

To make matters worse for Worcester Lewis got a yellow card during that passage of play.

03:27 PM

No one stops Big Dave

Dave Ewers goes over for his try - GETTY IMAGES
Dave Ewers goes over for his try - GETTY IMAGES

03:23 PM

54 mins: Exeter 22-10 Worcester

Simmonds' 15th try has come in his 17th match - somewhere Gatland will be smiling.

Meanwhile the hosts make several changes.

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03:20 PM

TRY FOR EXETER!!! Exeter 22-10 Worcester

Another five-metre scrum, Exeter go wide but it's messy. They have a penalty and once again tap and go, it's desperate defence from Worcester BUT Sam Simmonds (who else?!) goes over for his 15th try this season.

His brother adds the extras and it's now Exeter 22-10 Worcester

03:17 PM

50 mins: Exeter 15-10 Worcester

From the five-metre scrum Exeter win a free kick - they take it quickly and Sam Simmonds charges for the line, they have advantage, after advantage, after advantage - three penalties for offside in 30 seconds. Cowan-Dickie taps and goes but is held up before Francis dives over the whitewash. The on-filed decision is no try, it goes upstairs. The video refs take a long, hard look and it remains no try.

03:12 PM

47 mins: Exeter 15-10 Worcester

I think the tide has turned at Sandy Park.

A brilliant kick from Simmonds sets up a good run from Hogg, he plays in Nowell and Exeter crash over the line BUT they're held up. Great attack and good defence from Worcester.

03:10 PM

TRY FOR EXETER!! Exeter 15-10 Worcester

Penalty for Exeter and Simmonds kicks for touch.

From the resulting lineout the Chiefs set up a rolling maul. They spin it wide and are held up on the line, they're just a couple of metres short, Worcester's defensive line it being stretched and tested BUT they cannot hold out as the returning Dave Ewers crashes over from close-range showing great strength in the process.

Simmonds adds the extras and Exeter are in front for the first time this match.

03:07 PM

42 mins: Exeter 8-10 Worcester

The rain is getting worse now - so far Exeter haven't troubled the Worcester tryline. Sam Skinner brilliantly charges down Hougaard's kick but it goes into touch.

Already this half there have been several handling errors.

03:03 PM

40 mins: Exeter 8-10 Worcester

Cowan-Dickie is back on after his HIA.

03:03 PM

40 mins: Exeter 8-10 Worcester

We're back under way at a very windy Sandy Park. There was a Hurricane Sandy in 2012 - not sure it's that bad but if the wind goes go up a notch or two perhaps there can be a second Hurricane Sandy? Just a thought...

Can Exeter make better use of having the wind at their backs than Worcester did?

02:49 PM

HALF TIME: Exeter 8-10 Worcester

Shillcock holds on too long in an attacking position and gives a penalty away. That's it for an absorbing first half.

Worcester dominated the first 25 minutes, or so, and were well worth the 10-lead they created. BUT out of nothing Slade scored a fine try and the Simmonds penalty means Exeter are only two points behind at the break knowing they'll have the wind at their backs in the second half

02:45 PM

PENALTY FOR EXETER!!! Exeter 8-10 Worcester

After a scrappy period of play from both sides Exeter win a penalty and opt to go for goal - Joe Simmonds kicks the points and they're just two points behind now. right decision to take the points rather than kick for touch.

02:43 PM

35 mins: Exeter 5-10 Worcester

There's a bit of kick tennis - that ends with Exeter in the Worcester half but the hosts kick again when they should have kept the ball alive and Worcester call a mark. BUT the visitors kick goes dead and as a result Exeter have a scrum 25 yards out in front of the posts.

That was a poor kick from Fin Smith BUT the 18-year-old looks a good player and has had a decent first half.

Exeter bring on Yeandle for Cowen-Dickie for what I can only assume is due to an HIA for the England and Lions hooker.

02:37 PM

33 mins: Exeter 5-10 Worcester

Exeter are getting over the gainline more now and are in the Worcester half. They win a penalty for a deliberate knock-on and the visitors' discipline is fraying.

The hosts now have a lineout in the oppostion 22. Devoto crashes through but Worcester's defence stands firm and a mighty kick clears the danger.

02:34 PM

31 mins: Exeter 5-10 Worcester

Just nine minutes left of the half and Worcester have only a five-point cushion to show for their dominance and having the wind at their backs. They will need more knowing that Exeter will have the better of the conditions in the second 40.

02:32 PM

Are you watching, Warren Gatland?

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02:31 PM

28 mins: Exeter 5-10 Worcester

Exeter are dominating possession and territory at the moment. Hogg receives the ball from O'Flaherty and the visitors do well to snuff out the threat.

Exeter win a penalty and Simmonds kicks for touch. They mess up the chance to create something from the resulting lineout as Cowen-Dickie's throw isn't straight.

02:29 PM

26 mins: Exeter 5-10 Worcester

Baxter spoke about how the Lions players (those picked and those who missed out) responded to Thursday's announcement - Slade, a wonderful, creative player, has emphatically done that.

Exeter now have their tails up.

02:27 PM

TRY FOR EXETER!!! Exeter 5-10 Worcester

Against the run of play and out of nothing Slade sets up and scores his first try of the season.

Venter is in the Exeter half and tries a low kick forward. It hits Slade who picks it up and kicks, he has the pace to beat the Worcester defenders and goes over the line. Any score into the wind could prove crucial.

The conversion is missed and it's Exeter 5-10 Worcester

02:24 PM

22 mins: Exeter 0-10 Worcester

Another special mention to the wind - it will be a game of two halves and Worcester will know they have to pile on the points in this first 40.

02:23 PM

20 mins: Exeter 0-10 Worcester

The scoreline reflects how the game has gone so far, Exeter are yet to make the Worcester 22.

02:21 PM

TRY FOR WORCESTER! Exeter 0-10 Worcester

Another long kick from Shillcock causes panic in the Exeter 22. The Worcester backline are all over Hogg and they turn the ball over before spinning it wide. Venter still had work to do but he crosses the whitewash to make good on the visitors' dominance so far.

Shillcock adds the extras and it's Exeter 0-10 Worcester

02:17 PM

14 mins: Exeter 0-3 Worcester

From the resulting lineout the Worcester forwards do their jobs - they create a driving maul before Hougaard breaks and pops it to Humphreys, the defence stands firm. Worcester then spin it out again with Shillcock breaking and nearly making the line but last-ditch defence turns the ball over and Exeter breathe a sigh of relief.

02:15 PM

13 mins: Exeter 0-3 Worcester

The hosts at least have an attacking platform in Worcester half. The visitors knock on and the hosts have a scrum. From that set piece Exeter are penalised for the third time (one free kick and two pens).

Shillcock kicks for the corner and it will be a lineout in the Exeter 22.

02:11 PM

10 mins: Exeter 0-3 Worcester

The visitors are controlling the game well - Smith and Shillcock are kicking well and pinning Exeter in their own half. Yes they'd got the wind behind them but it's been impressive so far.

02:09 PM

8 mins: Exeter 0-3 Worcester

Exeter are on the back foot at the moment. They've barely left their own half and Worcester are fronting up physically as they did against Sale.

Shillcock then kicks long right into the Exeter 22 and Hogg, his opposite number, can only admire it.

02:07 PM

PENALTY FOR WORCESTER: Exeter 0-3 Worcester

The fullback makes no mistake from near the halfway line and the visitors take the early lead.

02:06 PM

4 mins: Exeter 0-0 Worcester

Worcester have started in committed style - they always give Exeter a good game, as Baxter alluded to before the kick off.

They win a penalty from a scrum and Shillcock fancies his chance from just inside Exeter's half - an indication of how strong the wind is.

02:04 PM

2 mins: Exeter 0-0 Worcester

Hougaard box kicks long and Nowell takes very well running back.

Devoto then puts in a full-blooded tackle on his opposite number, Beck, but knocks on in the process.

02:01 PM

1 min: Exeter 0-0 Worcester

Worcester kick off with the wind behind them.

01:59 PM

It looks horrendous in the south west

It's blowing a gale and is wet...

It was a match expected to be dominated by the forwards even before the weather (isn't it horrible across the country?!)...

01:57 PM

Late team change for the hosts - Gray is out

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01:53 PM

Sam's a star

Gatland clearly thinks so and so does most of European rugby. The one guy who's yet to be convinced, however, is England coach Eddie Jones who has ignored the Exeter No 8 for three years.

If you're more Eddie than Warren have a read of our very own Daniel Schofield's piece on the European Player of the Year.

READ: Rough, tough Sam Simmonds is the ‘mongrel’ Warren Gatland needs in his Lions squad

01:44 PM

The most recent results of both teams either suggest...

...that this may not be as cut and dried as people like me suggest or alternatively that it could be...if that makes sense.

The Chiefs come into the game having beaten league leaders Bristol Bears 20-12. It was Exeter at close the their best and, despite what the table looks like, illustrates that Rob Baxter's side is still the team to beat.

BUT the Warriors, although they are bottom of the table, came oh so close to beating Sale, currently in second place, in their last match - the final score being 35-32.

So make of those two results what you will.

01:37 PM

I present to you the Worcester side

WORCESTER WARRIORS XV TO FACE EXETER CHIEFS: Shillcock; Humphreys, Venter, Beck, Hearle; Smith, Hougaard,; Waller, Annett, Schonert, Kitchener, Clegg, Hill (capt), Lewis, Kvesic.

Replacements: Miller, Thomas, Palframan, Batley, Hatherell, van Velze, Simpson, Doe.

01:34 PM

Here be Exeter

EXETER CHIEFS XV TO FACE WORCESTER WARRIORS: Hogg; Nowell, Slade, Devoto, O'Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Gray, S Skinner, Ewers, Vermeulen, S Simmonds.

Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Williams, Lonsdale, Capstick, Townsend, H Skinner, Whitten

Confirmation that Hill misses out with a niggle, Skinner replaces the England and soon-to-be British and Irish Lion.

01:26 PM

Lions-related points to prove

Lions, you just can’t get away from them at the moment, which is no great shock seen as Warren Gatland named his squad of 37 to take on the Springboks on Thursday. But that announcement has particular relevance to this match as the hosts are littered with players who are overjoyed to have made the plane and some who may well be miffed they have not.

Let’s start with the two (semi) shocks. Sam Simmonds may be European Player of the Year but his making the British and Irish Lions 37 was a surprise simply on the basis he has not featured for Eddie Jones’ England since 2018. Jonny Hill, was without doubt a big shock - very few (if any) pundits had him making the plane over players such as Ireland’s James Ryan and his club team-mate, Scotland international, Jonny Gray.

They are joined in the Sandy Park dressing room and on the flight to South Africa by Stuart Hogg - no great shock and everyone’s favourite to start the first Test at 15 - and hooker Luke Cowen-Dickie.

The jilted Grey, will lineup alongside fellow snubbed stars Jack Nowell and Henry Slade. All of them - those picked and those not - seemingly with a point to prove.

Hill the big surprise inclusion, however misses out due to a slight niggle, he’s replaced by Scotland's Sam Skinner. Aside from Lions-related points to prove this match is obviously important in and of itself. After Sale’s win over Leicester last night Exeter are back in third spot and will be keen to get back into second and solidify their claim on a play-off spot.

In theory they should have no problem in that endeavour. Playing basement club Worcester, on paper, seems like an easy win for the European champions. Head coach Rob Baxter, however, is taking nothing for granted.

"I can't remember us ever having an easy game against Worcester,” he told BBC Radio Devon.

"So many games between us feel like they're one-score games, it's not that long ago that they came here and beat us in a close, low-scoring game.

"They're very tough opponents when we play them, which means hopefully we'll give them the respect they deserve and we'll go out there to go and play our absolute best game.”

Stay here for all the action and to find out if Exeter’s stars can put in a roaring performance.

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