|Exeter Chiefs (8) 41|
|Tries: Slade, Ewers, S Simmonds 2, Townsend, Vermeulen Cons: J Simmonds 4 Pens: J Simmonds|
|Worcester Warriors (10) 10|
|Tries: Venter Cons: Shillcock Pens: Shillcock|
Sam Simmonds celebrated his British and Irish Lions call-up with two tries as Exeter fought back to beat Worcester.
Jamie Shillcock’s penalty and Francois Venter’s try put Warriors ahead, but a Henry Slade try and Joe Simmonds’ kick cut the gap to 10-8 at half-time.
Dave Ewers’ pushover try put Exeter in front before two close-range Sam Simmonds scores sealed the bonus point.
Jack Nowell limped off injured before late tries from Stuart Townsend and Jacques Vermeulen capped a 41-10 win.
A sixth win in seven lifted the Chiefs back above Sale into second place, and within three points of leaders Bristol, while Worcester were left 14 points adrift at the bottom following Newcastle’s 52-27 win over London Irish.
Worcester kicked off in miserable form, on a run of 16 straight defeats stretching back to November, while Exeter had been beaten just once in six and defeated league leaders Bristol a fortnight ago.
However, the defending champions, who lost Scotland lock Jonny Gray injured in the warm-up, struggled against the gusting wind and found themselves 10-0 down midway through the first half.
Shillcock landed a booming early penalty from halfway before full-back Stuart Hogg was left isolated, allowing Worcester to turn the ball over and spread play out wide for Venter to finish.
Slade bounced back from the disappointment of missing the Lions squad with a brilliant solo try, blocking a grubber kick before hacking downfield, winning a 50m foot race and then dribbling the ball over the line to touch down.
Worcester looked to kick for territory and deny the hosts impetus, but the Chiefs gradually exerted control and a devastating scrum then earned a penalty, giving Joe Simmonds a simple kick at goal shortly before the interval.
The hosts soon put the squeeze on Worcester after the break, and when a line-out was taken short – to cancel out the gusting wind – a powerful secondary drive teed up Ewers, who was pushed over from five metres to put Exeter ahead for the first time after 46 minutes.
Worcester’s line came under mounting pressure with the television match official ruling out a third try when tight-head Tomas Francis crossed the line before Sam Simmonds finished from short range after a Luke Cowan-Dickie tap and go.
The score was marred by the sight of England winger Nowell hobbling from the field after being injured in the build-up.
Sam Lewis was shown a yellow card after a series of Worcester infringements close to their line and within minutes Sam Simmonds finished for his 16th try of the season – setting a new Premership record for a forward – after Tom Lawrence had been stopped on the line.
It was now a case of damage limitation for the Warriors, but they had no answer to Exeter’s relentless forward power as Townsend forced himself over from two metres, and Vermeulen crashed through for a last-gasp sixth try.
Exeter forwards coach Rob Hunter:
“It (the record) is a fantastic testament to the way Sam works and it’s a special achievement for any player.
“With 45mph winds and rain forecast we would have taken a bonus-point victory as it is important that we control our own destiny.
“We were pretty calm at half-time as we knew we had to keep it simple and keep our discipline for if we got close to their line we knew the scores would come.
“I’m not sure yet what the problem is but Jack (Nowell) has had a horrible run of injuries with a number of knock-backs in terms of rehab, but he’s a very professional guy so he will work through it.”
“I love scoring tries and I’ve got four regular games to go to try and score the two tries to break the Premiership record for any player.
“It helps when players like Dave Ewers and Franny (Tomas Francis) keep forcing me over.”
Worcester head coach Jonathan Thomas:
“In the first half, we played the conditions really well but didn’t capitalise as I thought we had the better set-piece.
“We were disappointed to concede the eight points before the interval – their try was a breakaway one and the penalty came at the scrum after Fin (Smith) had kicked the ball dead.
“Discipline killed us in the second half – you can’t afford to concede 13 or 14 penalties in a match, but the scoreline doesn’t reflect the effort we put in although I’m disappointed at the way we fell away.”
Exeter: Hogg; Nowell, Slade, Devoto, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Lonsdale, S Skinner, Ewers, Vermeulen, S Simmonds.
Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Williams, Witty, Capstick, Townsend, H Skinner, Whitten.
Worcester: Shillcock; Humphreys, Venter, Beck, Hearle; Smith, Hougaard,; Waller, Annett, Schonert, Kitchener, Clegg, Hill (capt), Lewis, Kvesic.
Replacements: Miller, Thomas, Palframan, Batley, Hatherell, van Velze, Simpson, Doe.
Sin-bin: Lewis (61), van Velze (75)
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe