Simmonds siblings put Exeter within sight of Champions Cup last eight

Paris (AFP) –


Brothers Sam and Joe Simmonds scored 21 of Exeter's points as they took a step towards a place in the European Champions Cup quarter-finals on Sunday with an 35-10 home victory over Sale.

Number eight Sam, 25, crossed twice and fly-half Joe, 22, scored once and kicked three conversions in a game which was briefly suspended during the final quarter due to a hail storm at Sandy Park.

The victory moves the unbeaten Chiefs 10 points clear of Glasgow at the top of Pool 2 ahead of the final couple of rounds of the campaign in January and ends the Sharks' hopes of last-eight spot.

"To go four in four in Europe is no easy task. It's a tough pool and we're coming out of it pretty well," Sam Simmonds told broadcasters BT Sport.

"We were all guns blazing and we got five points which we were looking for. We've got two more tough games," he added.

Scotland's Stuart Hogg started for the hosts despite suffering a head injury last weekend but South Africa's Rugby World Cup-winning scrum-half Faf de Klerk missed out for the visitors.

The Sharks took a 3-0 after 17 minutes as US fly-half AJ MacGinty slotted a penalty goal before the Chiefs responded with three tries by the hour mark.

Back-rower Sam scored four minutes later as Joe converted.

The outside-half crossed five minutes into the second half before his older brother doubled his tally for the game after 56 minutes.

Centre Sam James' converted try closed the deficit to 11 points on 61 minutes before a heavy hailstorm forced referee Pierre Brousset to send the players back into the changing rooms.

They returned to the field five minutes later and the Chiefs tied up the bonus point as prop Ben Moon and England winger Jack Nowell scored.

- Clermont crush Bath -

Later on Sunday, Clermont set-up a terrific match with Ulster on January 11 in Pool 3 with the French side a point off the Irish province at the top of the standings after hammering Bath 52-26.

France winger Alivereti Raka and ex-All Blacks centre George Moala both crossed twice inside the opening half an hour in an impressive 40-point first half display from last season's Challenge Cup winners.

The English outfit claimed a second-half bonus point but miss out on the Champions Cup knockouts for a fifth straight season.

On Saturday, record four-time winners Leinster produced a stunning seven-try, 50-21 victory against Northampton to become the first team ever to qualify for the quarter-finals after just four rounds.