Simmonds brothers show Eddie Jones what he is missing as Exeter show champion class with rout of Bath

Nigel Walrond
·5-min read
Sam Simmonds continues to show his try-scoring class - GETTY IMAGES
Sam Simmonds continues to show his try-scoring class - GETTY IMAGES

Exeter Chiefs 40 Bath 3

The Simmonds brothers grabbed the headlines once again as Exeter showed champion class to return to the top of the Premiership table with a six-try win.

Number eight Sam and fly-half Joe, who both continue to be overlooked by England head coach Eddie Jones despite a public clamour for them to be included in his squad, picked up where they left off in the 33-3 victory at Harlequins eight days before.

Sam bagged two more tries to add to his hat-trick at the Twickenham Stoop, while Joe produced an immaculate goalkicking display and delivered a perfect crossfield kick to provide Tom O’Flaherty’s superb first-half try.

The Chiefs’ pack was hugely impressive, with lock Sam Skinner particularly impressing after his release from the Scotland squad, and they have now gone 160 minutes at the start of this new season without conceding a try.

Delighted Exeter head coach Ali Hepher praised the efforts of his forwards for providing the platform for victory.

“I am really pleased with where we are mentally, producing two wins off the back of last season. It was always going to be a big ask to get back up for it, but the short turnaround has probably been good for us because we have been able to keep the momentum that was built up,” he said.

“Those guys up front have provided the platform for us over the first two weeks. The weather hasn’t been great and it has been tough conditions to play in, but what we have done well is reverted back to our wet weather rugby in the right areas, we have gone to our kick an chase game, our chase has been fantastic.

“If it dries up again, it will be nice to play a bit more rugby, but we will wait and see.”

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper said he felt his side they paid for problems at scrum time.

“We lost the game through our set piece indiscipline, and their box kicking game, where we gave away too many 50-50 bouncing balls there and they them off the hook with penalties in the middle of the field,” he commented.

“We need to look at our scrum in a little bit more detail. It has been a big area of strength for us and we need to get back to the bits that made us successful there.”

Sam Simmonds’ two tries in the opening half an hour came either side of a Rhys Priestland penalty for the visitors, and both came from great work by the forwards.

The first was via a devastating five-metre scrum after Joe Cokanasiga had carried over his own line following scrum-half Jack Maunder’s blindside snipe and kick ahead.

The second was a catch-and-drive effort in the left-hand corner, given after consultation with television match official Stuart Terheege, and with Joe converting both with aplomb, the Chiefs led 14-3.

Moments after the restart, Exeter got a third try under their belts. Olly Woodburn did brilliantly to tap back a box kick into the hands of a team-mate, and Joe Simmonds sent a crossfield kick into the path of O’Flaherty, who volleyed the ball from 45 metres out and won the race to the touchdown for an incredible score. Simmonds added the extras again and the Chiefs led 21-3 at the break.

Exeter had to wait until after a scoreless third quarter of the contest to get their bonus-point try, and it came via a penalty try after Bath lock Josh McNally had collapsed a maul heading for the line, for which he earned a yellow card.

Chiefs were able to rest several of their frontline stars in the closing stages and brought young  Australian fly-half Jack Walsh on for his debut, and he showed some lovely touches.

He also converted Exeter’s fifth try, dotted down by Scotland scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne after another imperious close-range scrum, before Ian Whitten went over in the corner three minutes from time for the final score of the game.

Commenting on O’Flaherty’s try, Hepher said: “We thought we wouldn’t get an individual try as good as Sam Simmonds’ one against Harlequins last week, but Tom’s score is up there in the equation!

“I am delighted with how it all came off for him, but it was reward for chasing hard. I was really pleased that Simmo found the space with the initial kick, and there was a bit of luck involved for Tom, but the harder you work, the luckier you get.”

Match details

Exeter Chiefs: F Cordero, O Woodburn (T Hendrickson 51), I Whitten, O Devoto, T O’Flaherty, J Simmonds (J Walsh 64), J Maunder (S Hidalgo-Clyne 60), B Moon (A Hepburn 55), J Yeandle (capt) (J Innard 64), H Williams (M Street 58), D Armand (W Witty 64), S Skinner, D Ewers, J Kirsten, S Simmonds (R Capstick 64).

Bath: T de Glanville (M Clark 57) , R McConnochie (S Rokoduguni 55), C Redpath, J Matavesi, J Cokanasiga, R Priestland, B Spencer (W Chudley 60); B Obano (L Boyce 48-55), T Dunn (J Walker 60), H Thomas (C Judge 48), J McNally (E Stooke 73), C Ewels (capt), M Williams (M Reid 56), J Bayliss, Z Mercer.

Scoring sequence: 5-0 S Simmonds try, 7-0 J Simmonds con, 7-3 Priestland pen, 12-3 S Simmonds try, 14-3 J Simmonds con, 19-3 O’Flaherty try, 21-3 J Simmonds; 28-3 penalty try, 33-3 Hidalgo-Clyne, 35-3 Walsh con, 40-3 Whitten.

Yellow card: Bath – McNally 62.

Referee: Christophe Ridley (RFU).