Two forward hat-tricks as Exeter thump Worcester

David Skippers

Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds both scored hat-tricks as Exeter extended their lead at the top of the Premiership table with a 59-7 win over Worcester.

Jack Nowell, Jacques Vermeulen and Stuart Hogg also crossed for Exeter, with Joe Simmonds adding seven conversions at Sandy Park.

Worcester, who selected virtually a reserve side to take on the leaders, could only muster a solitary late try from Ashley Beck in response, converted by Billy Searle.

Exeter’s opening try came after only seven minutes when Sam Simmonds finished off an unstoppable line-out drive, and their second score arrived only two minutes later when well-executed passing and excellent support play saw Hill crash over.

Joe Simmonds converted both before Warriors had their best period of the match. They enjoyed plenty of possession to keep the home side at bay but lacked the potency to break down a well-organised Chiefs defence.

Exeter then showed them how to capitalise on scoring chances with Sam Simmonds forcing his way over after a succession of forward drives, before Nowell celebrated his first appearance since January by squeezing over in the corner.

The hosts had therefore secured their bonus point inside the first half-hour but there was still time for Hill to complete his hat-trick before half-time.

First he drove over from close range then supported an elusive run from Nowell to outflank the cover defence. Joe Simmonds’ conversion gave his side a 38-0 interval lead.

30 seconds after the restart, Exeter scored their seventh try when a long pass sent Alex Cuthbert flying down the left flank and his inside pass provided Hogg with an easy run-in.

Luke Cowan-Dickie had a try disallowed for an earlier infringement before Exeter withdrew Nowell after the wing had provided an action-packed 50 minutes.

Worcester suffered a setback when GJ van Velze was helped off with an arm injury with Matt Cox replacing the number eight for his 100th appearance for the Warriors.

Chiefs rang the changes but it made no difference to the one-way traffic with the impressive Vermeulen’s try taking the hosts past 50 points.

Sam Simmonds then completed his hat-trick but, with 10 minutes remaining, Beck opened Worcester’s account to prevent them recording a record league defeat.

Earlier, Harlequins’ discarded England contingent took centre stage at The Stoop by inspiring a 30-17 Premiership victory that prolongs Northampton’s post-lockdown troubles.

A bonus-point win that keeps Paul Gustard’s team on the fringes of play-off contention was inspired by Mike Brown, the nation’s most capped full-back, whose quick thinking created tries for Nathan Earle and Chris Ashton.

Ashton finished a move that started when Brown schemed his way out of a defensive line-out inside Quins’ 22 and moments earlier Saints had been nudged closer to the precipice by a try from another England veteran in flanker Chris Robshaw.

The club’s seasoned campaigners, a group that also included scrum-half Danny Care, bossed youthful opposition as Northampton slumped to a third defeat in four outings since the five-month break for COVID-19.

Harlequins’ other try scorer was hooker Scott Baldwin while for the slipping Saints, centre Rory Hutchinson and wing Ryan Olowofela provided their only crossings.

In the other game, Ollie Thorley became only the third player to score four first-half tries in a Premiership game as Gloucester beat battling Leicester 46-30 at Kingsholm.

The 23-year-old England hopeful completed a quartet of scores in just 21 minutes as Gloucester ended a run of three successive home league defeats.

But the West Country club had to withstand an impressive Leicester fightback that saw Tigers move from 30 points adrift after 33 minutes to just six behind midway through the final quarter.

Uncapped Thorley’s feat matched four-try efforts by former Bath wing Tom Voyce in 2001 and ex-Wasps speedster Christian Wade four years ago.

Gloucester had a bonus point in the bag after 26 minutes, although a much-changed Leicester rallied strongly from 36-6 adrift just before the break.

Tigers newcomer Harry Potter scored a box-office solo touchdown for Leicester, while substitutes Jordan Taufua and Cameron Henderson also crossed as Tigers scored 24 points without reply.

But Thorley, who has twice been part of England Six Nations squads, retained centre-stage, with centre Chris Harris and scrum-half Joe Simpson also claiming touchdowns.

Billy Twelvetrees added four conversions and a penalty for Gloucester, while Zack Henry kicked two penalties and substitute George Ford landed three conversions and a penalty as he inspired Tigers’ ultimately fruitless quest to avoid an 11th league defeat this season.