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England Premiership: Exeter in first place

Exeter Chiefs continue their winning ways with big defeat of London Irish

The top two rugby sides in the Aviva Premiership comfortably remained in control over the weekend. Exeter and Saracens both earned bonus-points victories on Sunday in the Premiership Rugby League as they walloped the London Irish and Bath respectively. Going into MatchWeek 21, Exeter are in first place with 75 points. Saracens are in second with 67 points, Wasps in third with 61 points, and Newcastle are in fourth with 59 points. Exeter Chiefs booked their spot in a Sandy Park semi-final as they defeated London Irish 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 scoresheet. Joe Cokanasiga gave Irish their only points of the afternoon, going over for a score in the corner, but they remain adrift at the bottom of the table.

Chiefs forwards coach Rob Hunter talked about their victory with the media after the game. “We targeted a fast start coming into this game,” said Rob Hunter. “Irish had been getting points up on the board really early in the last couple of games. It’s obviously a great scoreline 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.”

London Irish 5-45 Exeter Chiefs

Reigning champions Exeter Chiefs continued their winning run towards finishing top of the England Premiership Rugby League as they were too much to handle for the London Irish, with a resulting 45-5 victory on a wet day in Reading at the Madejski Stadium. Ben Moon, Sam Simmonds, Mitch Lees, and Jack Yeandle's tries were key in Exeter claiming a maximum, with Gareth Steenson adding 15 points. The Chiefs displayed their top form and talent that have taken them to the top of the Premiership table as the rugby side romped into a 21-0 half-time lead thanks to three converted crossings. Moon got them on the scoreboard first with a 3rd minute try set up by Lachie Turner and Lees, fly-half Steenson making it a 7-0 lead. Exeter were in excellent form. Jonny Hill was denied by the TMO, before Simmonds finished a counter-attack as Irish's costly errors added up. England No.8 Simmonds crossed again on 31 minutes as the line-out drive was profitable for the holders. Simmonds completed his hat-trick 9 minutes into the second half, and that was also their bonus-point at the Madejski. London Irish got something for their fight when Joe Cokanasiga went over on the right wing after 54 minutes. However, with mighty Exeter second-row Lees responding for the Chiefs, the margin was up to 33 points at a 38-5 cushion. The big difference in quality between the two sides was obvious. The Chiefs scored again with a try via replacement hooker Yeandle to complete their victory.

The Man of the Match award went to Sam Simmonds who now has 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby tries for the season, just one behind Worcester’s Josh Adams, who leads with 13. Simmonds was strong throughout the clash - deadly in attack and a workhorse in defense, stopping Irish advances quickly. Henry Slade set Simmonds up for his first try, racing home from 28 meters 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. Simmonds used the wet, slick surface of the pitch 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. London Irish technical consultant Declan Kidney was interviewed by the media about their loss to the Chiefs and their slim hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premiership. “It was a tough day”, said Declan Kidney. “Exeter were full value for their win and were very efficient when they got within five meters 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. There’s nine points in and there’s still 10 points to play for, so we’ll keep fighting.”

Scorers:

London Irish:
Try: Cokanasiga

Exeter:
Tries: Moon, Simmonds 3, Lees, Yeandle
Cons: Steenson 6
Pen: Steenson

Squads

London Irish
15 Tommy Bell, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 James Marshall, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Max Northcote-Green, 6 Josh McNally, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 4 Franco van der Merwe (c), 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 David Paice, 1 Ben Franks. Subs: 16 Dave Porecki, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Josh Basham, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Fergus Mulchrone, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma

Exeter Chiefs
15 Lachie Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon. Subs: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Moray Low, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Sam Hill, 23 Tom O’Flaherty

Referee: JP Doyle

Saracens 41-6 Bath

Saracens also booked their Premiership play-off spot after they outplayed Bath at Allianz Park on Sunday, running in 6 tries in a 41-6 bonus-point win. Schalk Brits, Liam Williams, Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell, Schalk Burger and Ben Spencer got their tries in an amazing victory. Saracens enjoyed most of the possession in the first-half of the match, although Saracens' two tries came from Bath errors as they went into the half 15-6 up. Brits was Saracens opening try scorer as he went over from the back of a driving maul, after a Bath attack in the hosts' 22. Saracens went on dominating to make it 12-0 six minutes later, with a Bath error as a ball went loose on the home side's 22 before Williams ran in from 75 metresout. This time though Farrell did not kick for two more as he struck the upright. Bath displayed strong defensive work from Aled Brew as Priestland landed two penalties. Farrell finished the first period with his first penalty of the match giving Saracens a nine-point cushion. Saracens moved one try away from a bonus point four minutes into the half when Wigglesworth crossed after taking Williams' offload. The fourth try came from a stray Bath pass, and Farrell had a run-in from his own half to make it 29-6. Sarencens’ sub Michael Rhodes' hard tackle led to a turnover ball and Burger cruised over for their 5th. Alex Goode then set up scrum-half Spencer for a 6th, adding the gloss late on.

Scorers

Saracens:
Tries: Brits, Williams, Wigglesworth, Farrell, Burger, Spencer
Cons: Farrell 4
Pen: Farrell
Yellow Card: Taylor

Bath:
Pens: Priestland 2

Squads

Saracens
15 Liam Williams, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola. Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Alex Goode

Bath
15 James Wilson, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Charlie Ewels (c), 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano. Subs: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Victor Delmas, 19 James Phillips, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Max Green, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Tom Homer

Referee: Karl Dickson

Rugby Union England Premiership Table

Premiership Rugby standings and points after MatchWeek 20 Sep 1, 2017–May 26, 2018

1 Exeter 75
2 Saracens 67
3 Wasps 61
4 Newcastle 59
5 Leicester 57
6 Gloucester 56
7 Sale 54
8 Bath 46
9 Harlequins 36
10 Northampton 36
11 Worcester 31
12 London Irish 22

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