Exeter turn on style for fans and Sam Simmonds declares: “That was for YOU”

Sam Simmonds picked up where he left off in Europe to keep a promise he made to Exeter fans starved of live rugby.

Eight weeks after Chiefs won the Champions Cup and Simmonds was named player of the tournament, the turnstiles of Sandy Park reopened.

Supporters who last saw Exeter play when they were neither kings of Europe nor Premiership champions came hoping the magic had not worn off.

They were rewarded with emphatic confirmation it had not as Chiefs launched their title defence with a six-try masterclass.

Simmonds opened the scoring, was named man of the match and dedicated the win to the fans.

Olly Woodburn caps a fine individual display with one of Exeter’s six tries

“We wanted to put on a performance for our fans who had hurt from not seeing us in the best year we’ve ever had,” he said.

“We didn’t want to be the team that just performed for one year and were happy with that.”

Ironically, the start was as uncomfortable as boss Rob Baxter feared it would be when warning of the potential for distraction having fans back.

Here’s what you missed: Chiefs fans were unable to attend their club’s Champions Cup final triumph

Joe Simmonds put the opening kick-off straight out and Chiefs were turned over at the first scrum.

But Exeter quickly twigged that they needed to bring the fuel to start the fire rather than expect the crowd to light it for them.

Once they did, once Jannes Kirsten and Dave Ewers teamed up to dump an onrushing Warrior on his backside, it was business as usual.

Sam Simmonds has not played for England since 2018

The throaty roar which greeted the turnover was followed by a pin-point kick to the corner by Henry Slade, a line-out drive and try for Sam Simmonds.

Now the place crackled with energy. Tom O’Flaherty cut a peach of a line, Glasgow infringed at the breakdown, Chiefs worked it into the red zone and Jonny Gray dotted down.

Before Glasgow had recovered from one of their old boys scoring against them it happened a second time, Slade and Olly Woodburn unpicking Warriors’ defence, Stuart Hogg doing the rest.

Stuart Hogg dives to score against his former club

There is a swagger about Exeter these days and they really need no help from the opposition.

But Glasgow tossed them a bone all the same, Grant Stewart overthrowing a lineout for Jack Yeandle to bag the bonus point.

Chiefs’ command of the game was summed up by their fifth try. Sam Simmonds not only won a turnover but got up and made 20 metres.

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter with last season’s Premiership and Champions Cup trophies

The ball came back to Ollie Devoto who dropped it onto his boot for Woodburn to score without breaking stride.

The winger was not done, exploding into the 13 channel to send Jonny Hill over for the final score and give Joe Simmonds his sixth conversion.

It will be tougher in Toulouse next week where Sam Simmonds concedes Exeter will arrive wearing a target.

“But starting the campaign like this sets down a good marker,” he said. “We’re happy with that.”

EXETER – Tries: S Simmonds, Gray, Hogg, Yeandle, Woodburn, Hill. Cons: J Simmonds 6.

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