Flyhalf Joe Simmonds contributed 13 points to guide Exeter Chiefs to a 28-18 victory over Toulouse in their Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday.
It was a see-saw battle that pitted Toulouse’s superb attack against Exeter’s efficient defence and it made for a great contest. In the end, Exeter’s efforts won the day. They will now face Racing 92, who beat Saracens earlier in the day, in the final.
Toulouse opened a six-point lead courtesy of two penalties from Thomas Ramos. Wing Cheslin Kolbe, in particular, was full of running, but while he made a lot of running metres, he and his teammates were left frustrated as Exeter’s defence stopped them just short of the tryline every time.
Prop Harry Williams then scored for the hosts against the run of play and with the subsequent successful conversion they hit the front for the first time. Toulouse hit back with a five-pointer of their own, but the Exeter would wrestle back the lead again as Sam Simmonds applied the finishing touches to a well-worked team effort.
Trailing 14-11 at the start of the second half, one would’ve expected Toulouse to come out firing at the restart. Yet, it was the Exeter Chiefs who put their foot on the accelerator with two more tries to take the fight out of Toulouse and all but end the game as a contest.
Replacement back Matthis Lebel would grab a late score for Toulouse, but it was mere consolation in the bigger scheme of things.
Exeter Chiefs – Tries: Harry Williams (2), Sam Simmonds, Joe Simmonds. Conversions: Joe Simmonds (4).
Toulouse – Tries: Alban Placines, Matthis Lebel. Penalties: Thomas Ramos (2).
Exeter Chiefs – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (c), 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 Tomas 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 (c), 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.
Photo: Exeter Chiefs/Twitter