Exeter march into first Euro Final
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Flyhalf Joe Simmonds scored 13 points as Exeter Chiefs reached the Final for the first time with a 28-18 victory at home against Toulouse.
Uncapped Simmonds, 23, kicked four conversions and scored a try of his own at Sandy Park without spectators due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Chiefs will now host Racing 92 in the final on October 17 after the French club beat Saracens 19-15 earlier in the day.
“It means so much to us, as it would to any team, getting to an European final, it’s huge,” Simmonds’ No 8 brother Sam said.
“We’ll enjoy this, it’s a massive win. Looking forward to the final. They really put you under pressure with their offloads. They have superstars. We kept putting pressure on the big pack and it came with results.”
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France fullback Thomas Ramos kicked two penalties to hand Toulouse a 6-0 lead after a quarter of an hour.
Despite the visitors’ early pressure the hosts were the first to cross the whitewash.
Wing Tom O’Flaherty broke free and prop Harry Williams scored from a pick-and-go on the 30-minute mark and with Simmonds’ conversion the Chiefs led 7-6.
The French side responded four minutes later as South African World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe found space out wide before Albine Placines dived over, Ramos missing the extras from the touchline.
But it was the Chiefs who led at the break, 14-11, thanks to a quickly-taken penalty that saw Joe Simmonds’ older brother, Sam, make the most of space to score Exeter’s second, fly-half Simmonds converting.
The away side started the second half brightly, Ramos nailing a penalty to bring the teams level.
The English Premiership leaders restored their advantage just after the hour mark, however, as Williams claimed his second try of the game.
The tighthead bundled over after repeated phase play and Joe Simmonds’ additional points made it a 10-point deficit heading into the final quarter.
Flyhalf Simmonds then showed his quality with ball in hand after kicking from the tee well early on.
He dummied a pass and broke inside back-rower Placines and dotted down unopposed.
He kicked the conversion to leave Exeter in control at 28-11 with eight minutes to play, just enough time for Mathieu Lebel to go over for a consolation effort for Toulouse.
For Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Williams 2, J Simmonds, S Simmonds
Cons: J Simmonds 4
Tries: Placines, Lebel
Pens: Ramos 2
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (captain), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Sam Skinner, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn,
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tom Francis, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Don Armand, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ollie Devoto,
Toulouse: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Selevasio Tolofua, 7 Francois Cros, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille,
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Alban Placines, 20 Louis Madaule, 21 Alexi Bales, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Matthis Lebel
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England) & Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)