Chiefs to assess Simmonds injury

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Exeter Chiefs No.8 Sam Simmonds limps out of the action during Sunday's Gallagher Premiership victory over Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens. Picture: Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, says free-scoring No.8 Sam Simmonds will undergo a full assessment by the club's medical staff after he was forced off during Sunday's Gallagher Premiership win at Northampton Saints.

The newly-named British and Irish Lion hobbled out of the action in the second period with an ankle injury as the Chiefs staged a thrilling second half fightback to win 29-26 at Franklin's Gardens.

Simmonds was part and parcel of a Chiefs outfit that trailed 18-0 at the break, before showing their champions credentials in the second period.

Baxter said: “He (Simmonds) has had a rolled ankle from a few weeks ago which has been fine. I did not wait to see if he wanted to carry on. We were thinking of making a back-row substitution anyway.

“There will be an assessment over the next couple of hours. We didn’t take him off because it was a clear ‘that’s it, he’s done’. I thought let’s get on with things and keep the momentum in the game.

“Right here and now I don’t want to make a call on how bad it is. It could be very minor. It is one of those things. We will take everything into account, and if the right thing medically is for him not to play against Sale (next Saturday), then he won’t.

“People are either fit or they are not. Sam likes playing. He does not think rest suits him, but if his ankle isn’t right, it isn’t right. He won’t want to be cotton wool-wrapped for the Lions, and we don’t know the extent of the injury at all.”

The Lions face Japan at Murrayfield in 20 days, before heading to South Africa for an eight-match trip highlighted by three Tests against the reigning world champions.

Premiership title holders Exeter wiped out an 18-point deficit to prevail, with Saints playing with 14 men for more than hour after lock David Ribbans was sent off.

Exeter’s bonus-point triumph – a sixth successive Premiership win – means they need a point against Sandy Park visitors and title rivals Sale Sharks this Saturday for a home semi-final.

It is odds-on that Sale would then return to Devon in the play-offs a week later.

Reflecting on Exeter’s first-half troubles in the east midlands, Baxter added: “It was purely a mental thing. It is important to address how we turned up today and acknowledge any problems.”

Exeter, who did not lead until the 75th minute, triumphed through tries by Sam Skinner, Stuart Hogg, Stu Townsend and Ollie Devoto, with skipper Joe Simmonds booting three conversions and a late penalty.

Ribbans was dismissed for direct shoulder contact to the head of Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, leaving Northampton a man down for 66 minutes.

But they pushed Exeter all the way in front of a 4,000 crowd through centre Rory Hutchinson’s try double, a Mike Haywood touchdown and 11 points from Biggar that included a drop-goal.

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