Simmonds finished his opening score from nearly 50m out
It did not take long after the restart for the lead to grow, with Ewers scoring a more conventional Exeter try. With a penalty sent to touch just short of the Harlequins five-metre line, the home side’s maul defence went missing to allow Ewers to take the lineout and charge through without facing any real resistance.
Joe Simmonds this time missed the conversion to leave Harlequins hope of a fightback, and it very nearly came immediately. Smith and Alex Dombrandt combined perfectly to allow the latter to collect a delicate chip over the defensive line, and the powerful forward immediately hacked on again for himself and Danny Care to chase. Tom O’Flaherty was able to gather first but the defence trapped Exeter in their 22, and turnover ball allowed Harlequins to attack. With Exeter scrambling, Care put centre Luke Northmore through to score, but the gap was only there as Dombrandt had charged through in front of him and referee Christophe Ridley correctly ruled it out for crossing.
Harlequins had grown into the contest though with a series of penalty in a row and the way they went hammer and tongs at the Chiefs, something was going to give. It took an excellent tap-tackle from Scott Baldwin to prevent an Exeter try after Ian Whitten broke through Smith’s attempted tackle with O’Flaherty outside him.
Simmonds’s third try sealed the bonus point for Exeter
But the pressure started to shift back onto the hosts. Care conceded a penalty for taking out the scrum-half before captain Stephen Lewies did likewise by catching O’Flaherty high, but it proved third time lucky as a scrum infringement from replacement Jordan Els gave Exeter the five-metre lineout for Sam Simmonds to score his second. With just five minutes left on the clock, the Exeter pack delivered the same again to gift Simmonds his hat-trick to seal a hard-fought bonus points, and having done the eye-catching stuff early on, Simmonds proved he can do it ugly too.
Harlequins: Mike Brown; Nathan Earle (Tyrone Green, 55), Luke Northmore (Ben Tapuai, 68), Andre Esterhuizen, Cadan Murley; Marcus Smith, Danny Care; Santiago Garcia Botta (Jordan Els, 47), Scott Baldwin, Wilco Louw (Simon Kerrod, 47); Matt Symons (Glen Young, 15), Stephan Lewies; Tom Lawday (Archie White, 63), Will Evans, Alex Bombrandt.
Replacements not used: Jack Musk, Jack Stafford.
Exeter: Facundo Cordero (Tom Henrickson, 52); Tom O’Flaherty, Ian Whitten, Ollie Devoto (Harvey Skinner, 73), Olly Woodburn; Joe Simmonds, Jack Maunder (Stu Townsend, 61); Alec Hepburn (Ben Moon, 55), Jack Yeandle (Luke Cowan-Dickie, 58), Harry Williams (Marcus Street, 63); Will Witty (Tom Price, 70), Don Armand; Dave Ewers (Richard Capstick, 76), Jannes Kirsten, Sam Simmonds.
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