Lions injury scare for Sam Simmonds as Exeter fight back to beat Northampton

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Sam Simmonds had an harm scare in Exeter’s entertaining victory in opposition to Northampton with the Premiership playoffs and the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa looming.

Simmonds rolled his left ankle halfway by means of the second half and the No 8 was instantly withdrawn by the Chiefs’ director of rugby, Rob Baxter. His brother Joe went on to kick Exeter to a 29-26 victory after that they had trailed 18-0 at half-time, whereas Sam can be assessed to find the extent of the harm.

Because of this Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach, will face an anxious wait, having already needed to substitute the injured prop Andrew Porter with Kyle Sinckler. Dan Biggar, within the wars all through, additionally went off gingerly with a pectoral drawback however Northampton weren’t unduly involved concerning the Welshman, who’s extensively anticipated to be Gatland’s first-choice fly-half in South Africa.

The bonus-point victory tightens Exeter’s grip on second place. With Sale due at Sandy Park for the final match of the common season on Saturday, if Exeter can keep away from a bonus-point defeat they are going to safe a house semi-final in opposition to Sale seven days later.

Simmonds, who was seen after the match with ice on his ankle, is because of be part of the Lions as soon as his commitments with Exeter have completed. “He has had a rolled ankle from just a few weeks in the past which has been fantastic,” stated Baxter. “I didn’t wait to see if he wished to hold on. Proper right here and now I don’t wish to make a name on how dangerous it’s. It’s a kind of issues, we’ll take every little thing into consideration and if the best factor medically is for him to not play in opposition to Sale then he received’t. Persons are both match or they don’t seem to be. Sam likes taking part in. He doesn’t assume relaxation fits him – but when his ankle isn’t proper, it isn’t proper.”

If Exeter are to come back by means of their battles with Sale and return to Twickenham this month they should carry out much better than their first-half exhibiting right here, however credit score should go to Northampton who performed 67 minutes of the match with 14 males following David Ribbans’s early purple card.

The Saints had been impressed within the first half, taking an 18-0 lead regardless of their numerical drawback, however again got here Exeter with a second‑half exhibiting worthy of their champion standing. Ribbans’s purple care was for a shoulder to the top of Luke Cowan-Dickie which in the end might finish his probabilities of successful a primary England cap this summer time.

Buoyed by a vocal dwelling crowd, decided to log out on a excessive of their remaining dwelling match of the season and with ascendancy on the breakdown, Northampton had been dominant within the opening 40 minutes. Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam and Tom Wooden all had fantastic matches, with Biggar usually to the fore.

He launched Rory Hutchinson for the opening strive, prising open the hole with a beautiful dummy, and it was his chip – quickly after Ribbans had been despatched off – that allowed the Scotland centre to prod the ball in the direction of the tryline and plunge over for his and Northampton’s second strive. A Biggar penalty and a drop-goal took Northampton’s result in 18 on the interval – Exeter, for his or her half, had not fired a shot.

They started the second half in ominous vogue, nonetheless, with Sam Skinner powering over from shut vary within the forty fourth minute. Exeter had been again to inside six factors when Stuart Hogg completed off after a concerted interval of strain, ghosting over on the within. Biggar added one other long-range penalty to push Northampton’s lead again out to greater than a rating, however when Stu Townsend sniped over along with his first contact after coming off the bench on the hour Exeter had been again to inside two.

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Mikey Haywood, one other who had simply come off the bench, stormed down the best wing to present Northampton renewed hope of an unlikely victory however Ollie Devoto burst clear and beneath the posts for Exeter’s fourth strive. Joe Simmonds’s conversion levelled issues up at 26-26 and after one other Chiefs siege he was given the chance to kick the successful factors with six minutes left on the clock.

“I used to be so pleased with our character and resolve and willpower to work with 14 males,” stated Northampton’s director of rugby, Chris Boyd. “The lads caught to it so long as they bodily might.”

Northampton Freeman; Sleightholme (Dingwall, 24), Proctor, Hutchinson, Naiyaravoro; Biggar (Grayson, 61), James (Mitchell, 58); Waller (co-capt; Iyogun 60), Matavesi (Haywood, 60), Painter (Heffernan, 65), Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa (Moon, 58), Lawes (Coles, 68), Ludlam (co-capt), Wooden.

Tries Hutchinson 2, Haywood. Con Biggar. Pens Biggar 2. Drop-goal Biggar.

Despatched off Ribbans 13.

Exeter Hogg; Cordero (Devoto, 51), Slade, Whitten, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder (Townsend, 58); Moon (Hepburn, 50), Cowan-Dickie (Yeandle, 58), Williams (Avenue, 60), Grey (Lonsdale, 58), Hill, S Skinner, Kirsten, S Simmonds (Capstick, 64).

Tries S Skinner, Hogg, Townsend, Devoto. Cons J Simmonds 3. Pen J Simmonds.

Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU). Attendance 4,000.

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