Skills coach Ricky Pellow admits he was mightily impressed by Exeter Chiefs’ second-half display, as his side pulled away from Harlequins to reach their third straight Anglo-Welsh Cup final on Sunday.
The hosts were outstanding at Sandy Park, denying Quins the chance to compete in a final on home soil next weekend – as the competition’s showpiece heads to the Twickenham Stoop.
Early scores from Lachlan Turner and Max Bodilly put Chiefs in control of the clash, and in truth the half-time margin of 14-0 could have been greater, with the Exeter pack dominating proceedings.
And Julian Salvi and Sam Simmonds put the gloss on the 24-7 victory after the interval – with Calum Waters’ last-gasp score a mere consolation for Quins.
“Fair play to our guys,” said Pellow. “They really came out at the start of the second half and took a stranglehold of the game, and to pull away like we did was really pleasing.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) March 13, 2017
“It goes right down to our junior academy players; everyone at the club knows how we want to play from an early age, so you can see today with the likes of Sam Simmonds, Joe Simmonds, and Stu Townsend – they’ve had years of playing in this style.
“They are confident in how we want to play so they can maximise every action, which is really pleasing.
“Harlequins are a side that were going to try and play ball in hand like ourselves, and in terms of defensive sets, we stepped up in the second half even though they kept coming at us.
“We forced a lot of errors, and as the game went on we got on top of them defensively.
“Stu [Townsend] and Joe [Simmonds] have grown as a half-back partnership, and are not just able to step up in this competition, but also in the Aviva Premiership.
“They can play in these games but also in the league, which is what you are looking to produce from your academy.”
Exeter will meet Leicester Tigers, and coach Geordan Murphy believes experience showed as they downed Saracens 32-10 win away at Allianz Park.
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) March 13, 2017
Freddie Burns was the star of the show as he scored one try, kicked three conversions and two penalties in the convincing victory.
George Worth, Luke Hamilton and Ellis Genge also crossed for the Tigers, while Henry Taylor and Matt Gallagher scored for the hosts.
Murphy said: “We had a lot of experience out there and the boys got stuck in and played for each other.
“It was important that we got the first score as Saracens can put you under a lot of pressure if they go ahead as it proved in the league fixture here.
“So we focused on that and our forwards deserve a lot of credit by controlling things as some of them have been out for a considerable period and badly needed game time.”
Tickets for the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 19 March are now on sale. Click here to buy yours.
SUNDAY: Exeter Chiefs 24 Harlequins 7
Exeter Chiefs 24
Tries: Turner, Bodilly, Salvi, S Simmonds
Conversions: J Simmonds (2)
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
SATURDAY: Saracens 10 Leicester Tigers 32
Tries: Taylor, Gallagher
Leicester Tigers 32
Tries: Worth, Hamilton, Genge, Burns
Conversions: Burns 3
Penalties: Burns 2
Referee: Luke Pearce