|London Irish (0) 5|
|Exeter (21) 45|
|Tries: Moon, S. Simmonds 3, Lees, Yeandle Cons: Steenson 6 Pens: Steenson|
Sam Simmonds scored a hat-trick as Exeter outclassed London Irish to seal a top-two finish and put their opponents on the verge of relegation.
The Premiership leaders were 21-0 up after a dominant first half, with two Simmonds tries after Ben Moon’s opener.
England forward Simmonds ended a fine move for his treble but Joe Cokanasiga scored to get Irish off the mark.
With the bonus point sealed Mitch Lees and Jack Yeandle went over to make it six tries in all for Exeter.
Saracens’ five-point victory at Bath means Exeter stay eight points clear of their nearest rivals, with a home play-off semi-final confirmed.
The hosts stay nine points adrift of Worcester at the bottom and need bonus-point wins from their final games against Saracens and Bath to have a chance of staying up.
Irish’s defeat was compounded by injuries to a number of players, including Max Northcote-Green and Tommy Bell, who both went off in the first half.
Simmonds’ first came from a slick counter-attacking move, with his third try taking him just one behind Worcester’s Josh Adams, the Premiership’s leading scorer.
Returning captain Gareth Steenson put in a faultless kicking display, with seven out of seven, including several from out wide.
It took Declan Kidney’s side 55 minutes to register their only points, Cokanasiga shrugging off two players to squeeze over, and they barely threatened otherwise.
London Irish technical consultant Declan Kidney told BBC Radio Berkshire:
“It was a tough day – Exeter were full value for their win and were very efficient when they got within five metres of our line.
“I think sometimes you put your hands up when you come up across a side who’ve played well.
“They came here to make it a good arm wrestle and they won those collisions.”
On their thin hopes of avoiding relegation: “There’s nine points in and there’s still 10 points to play for, so we’ll keep fighting.”
Exeter Chiefs forwards coach Rob Hunter told BBC Radio Devon:
“We targeted a fast start coming into this game – Irish had been getting points up on the board really early in the last couple of games.
It’s obviously a great scoreline and to maintain our focus throughout, in terms of our kicking, territory and defensive game was also really satisfying.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re going through the gears a bit over the next couple of weeks, not trying to manage ourselves. We’ve got to make sure we take momentum into the play-offs.”
London Irish: Bell; Cokanasiga, Fowlie, Brophy Clews, Lewington; Marshall, Van Zyl; Franks, Paice, Hoskins, Van der Merwe (capt), De Chaves, McNally, Northcote-Green, Treviranus.
Replacements: Porecki, Reid, Du Plessis, Basham, Schatz, Steele, Mulchrone, Tikoirotuma.
Exeter Chiefs: Turner; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Cordero; Steenson (capt), White; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Lees, J. Hill, Ewers, Armand, S. Simmonds.
Replacements: Yeandle, Low, Williams, Skinner, Waldrom, Townsend, S. Hill, O’Flaherty.
Referee: JP Doyle.