London Irish 12-31 Exeter: Chiefs seal play in the playoffs

London Irish 12-31 Exeter: Sam Simmonds sets new Premiership try-scoring record by reaching 19 for the season with a hat-trick as Chiefs seal play-off place for sixth year in a row

  • Sam Simmonds broke the Premiership try-scoring record for a season
  • His hat-trick against London Irish on Tuesday night took his tally to 19
  • Chiefs have qualified for the end-of-year semi-finals alongside Bristol Bears

Exeter’s ginger ninja Sam Simmonds continued his try-scoring hot-streak by taking a hat-trick to break the league’s all-time try-scoring record as the Chiefs made the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.

The newly-selected Lion scored his 17th, 18th and 19th tries of an extraordinary season in a bonus-point win for Exeter.

It means Chiefs qualified for the end-of-year semi-finals alongside Bristol Bears with three regular-season games left as Irish were well beaten in front of 3,988 fans in Brentford.

Sam Simmonds scored a hat-trick of tries as Exeter Chiefs beat London Irish on Tuesday night

Simmonds was three years old when the record was set in 1998 by Richmond’s Dominic Chapman, later equalled by Wasps winger Christian Wade in 2017, but now the Lion is prowling out on his own in the record books.

The No 8 now has an incredible 50 league tries in 66 matches. His brother Joe also sauntered in for his own first-half try, easing past prop Lovejoy Chawatama, the only one he failed to convert.

Sam’s first two scores both came in traditional Exeter fashion – bashing over from close range with supporting drivers on either side – as he continued to make a mockery of his non-selection by Eddie Jones for England.

The national boss was in the stands with forwards coach Matt Proudfoot, and both would have been impressed by Irish youngsters Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Loader who combined superbly for the Exiles’ second after Ben Donnell had crashed over 11 minutes earlier.

The number eight continued his hot-streak to break the league’s all-time try-scoring record

Those could both form part of England’s summer squad for Tests against the USA and Canada.

Down in seventh the south-Londoners, the top-flight’s trendiest club now back in the capital, are pushing for Champions Cup rugby, but lapses cost them.

Loader let a Joe Simmonds cross-kick bobble to his try-line only to see Tom O’Flaherty beat him to the ball and touch down for Chiefs’ fourth try – but then the wing was sin-binned for taking out Irish full-back Tom Parton in the air.

But it did not matter as Alex Cuthbert put Simmonds into the right-hand corner, sliding in for his superb hat-trick nine minutes from time, before O’Flaherty had a late sixth try denied for a knock-on. 

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