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Match Reaction: London Irish 5-45 Exeter Chiefs

Match Reaction: London Irish 5-45 Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs booked a Sandy Park semi-final as they comfortably beat London Irish, winning 45-5 at the Madejski Stadium.

Sam Simmonds scored a hat-trick for the visitors as Exeter ran in six tries, with Ben Moon, Mitch Lees and Jack Yeandle also getting on the scoreheet.

Joe Cokanasiga gave Irish their only points of the afternoon, muscling over for a score in the corner, but they remain adrift at the bottom of the table.

MAN OF THE MATCH

There could only be one choice for the man of the match award, as Simmonds moved onto 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby tries for the season, just one behind Worcester’s Josh Adams, who leads the way with 13.

Simmonds was a handful from start to finish, deadly in attack and a workhorse in defence, stifling any Irish advances before they could really get going.

Henry Slade set Simmonds up for his first try, showing a clean set of heels to race home from 28 metres out, and he carried the ball off the back of a driving maul for his second, before sliding in for his third just after half-time.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

On a wet day in Reading, Simmonds used the greasy surface to full effect in scoring his third try, sliding in from far out and letting his momentum take him over the whitewash.

Two Irish defenders got back, but they couldn’t prevent the Chiefs forward from gliding across the line and wrapping up a superb hat-trick.

TRY OF THE MATCH

With possession around the halfway line, Exeter didn’t look too threatening, until Gareth Steenson used quick ball from the ruck to fizz it down the line.

Slade broke through and had a couple of options to choose between elected to find the onrushing Simmonds with an exquisite pass who sped home from outside the 22 for the visitors’ second score.

WHAT THEY SAID

London Irish technical consultant Declan Kidney told BBC Radio Berkshire: “It was a tough day – Exeter were full value for their win and were very efficient when they got within five metres of our line.

“I think sometimes you put your hands up when you come up across a side who’ve played well.

“They came here to make it a good arm wrestle and they won those collisions.”

On their thin hopes of avoiding relegation: “There’s nine points in and there’s still 10 points to play for, so we’ll keep fighting.”

Exeter Chiefs forwards coach Rob Hunter told BBC Radio Devon: “We targeted a fast start coming into this game – Irish had been getting points up on the board really early in the last couple of games.

It’s obviously a great score line and to maintain our focus throughout, in terms of our kicking, territory and defensive game was also really satisfying.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re going through the gears a bit over the next couple of weeks, not trying to manage ourselves. We’ve got to make sure we take momentum into the play-offs.”

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