Exeter Chiefs’ Sam Simmonds took the plaudits in his side’s Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series win on home soil, but the 21-year-old Man of the Round was just as happy to secure the family bragging rights.
Simmonds skippered Chiefs for the second year running in the competition, as they welcomed Wasps, Bath Rugby and Bristol Rugby to Sandy Park.
And after three wins from their three matches on Saturday, Exeter progressed to the August 7 final at the Ricoh Arena in style – rounding off the day with a 26-19 victory over Wasps to top the group.
Simmonds scored try doubles in two of Chiefs wins to make the difference for his side, and after scooping the Man of the Round gong with a host of friends and family in attendance, he was thrilled to get one over on brother Joe who also took to the field for Exeter.
“Winning Man on the Round is of course really pleasing,” he said. “I actually thought a couple of the other lads outplayed me, and I just ran in a few of the tries at the end.
“But I’m delighted to get it as it’s the first time I’ve won it, and to achieve this in front of a home crowd makes it that much more special – although it was certainly a collective performance, the boys around me really helped me out.
“Both my brother and I played obviously so we had a lot of friends and family in the stadium. Joe played well too, but our mates will definitely get into him a little bit after this award I think.
“But I am the older brother and he’s the kicker so I’ve got to be leading from the front really. I’ll score the tries and he can nudge them over.
“It was a great performance. We always try to do our best in the Singha 7s, and we’ve performed well over the years but this is probably our best so far.
“To win in front of a home crowd makes it that little bit more special and we are the first Exeter side to do it so it is a proud moment for me and all the boys that were involved.”
Attention now turns to the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Final in a fortnight’s time for Exeter, where they and Wasps join Cardiff Blues and Ospreys who qualified on Friday.
The Northampton and Newcastle legs take place next weekend, but in the meantime Simmonds admits Exeter have work to do to ensure they emerge as top dogs again in Coventry.
He added: “The coaches want us young boys coming through to thrive in this environment, and it’s not that often we get to play in front of a lot of Chiefs' fans and have the spotlight on us.
“We all did well which bodes well for the future, both in terms of the preseason games we will be involved with and two weeks' time at the Ricoh Arena.
“We know that when we have the ball we have the players that can make things happen, but in defence as well we were relentless and in the end that’s what won it.
“A couple of times though we lost focus in defence and did not come up as hard as we could, and in attack we want to move the ball more rather than having a go in the middle, so there’s two things to work on for two weeks' time.”
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals are at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit https://www.premiershiprugby.com/singha7s/tickets/
Wasps 19 (Howe, Dolan, Miller)
Exeter Chiefs 26 (Sam Simmonds 2, Joe Simmonds, Bodilly)
Bristol Rugby 33 (Edwards 2, Bird, Uren, Slowik)
Bath Rugby 12 (Mercer, Davis)
Exeter Chiefs 33 (Simmonds 2, Laverick, Mason, Bodilly)
Bath Rugby 5 (Humfrey)
Wasps 22 (Bassett 2, Dolan, Hampson)
Bristol Rugby 14 (Edwards, penalty)
Wasps 36 (Halai 2, Howe, Cruse, Macken, De Luca)
Bath Rugby 21 (Humfrey, Mercer, Atkins)
Bristol Rugby 5 (Searle)
Exeter Chiefs 36 (Mason 2, Bodilly 2, Skinner, Hendrickson)