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Exeter have too much for Toulouse to set up European final against Racing 92
33-year-old ex-Ulster centre Ian Whitten was excellent in midfield for Rob Baxter’s side.

Exeter 28

Toulouse 18

ROB BAXTER’S EXETER gradually picked Toulouse apart in their Champions Cup semi-final at Sandy Park to set up their first-ever European decider against Racing 92 in three weekends’ time at Bristol’s Ashton Gate.

After Racing had overcome Saracens in dramatic fashion earlier, the Chiefs ensured there will be English representation in the Champions Cup final as they overcame some of Toulouse’s thrilling attacking onslaughts to emerge with an impressive victory.

ian-whitten-makes-a-break Rogan Thomson / INPHO Former Ulster centre Ian Whitten makes a break for Exeter. Rogan Thomson / INPHO / INPHO

33-year-old ex-Ulster centre Ian Whitten was excellent in midfield for Baxter’s men, while Gareth Steenson was on the bench, meaning more Irishmen in the European final along with the Racing trio of Simon Zebo, Donnacha Ryan, and Mike Prendergast.

It was Exeter’s Simmonds brothers, Joe and Sam, who did much of the damage for the Chiefs against Toulouse, who ran out of steam in the second half having beaten Ulster in last weekend’s quarter-finals. 

The Simmonds brothers both scored tries for Baxter’s side, while tighthead prop Harry Williams grabbed two as Exeter once again showed just how difficult their pick-and-jam game is to stop when they get to within close-range of the opposition tryline.

Exeter’s win sets up a fascinating final with Racing on 17 October, with both clubs looking to win their first Champions Cup title. European success would cap a remarkable rise for the Chiefs, who were only promoted to the Premiership for the first time in 2010.

Two successful shots at goal from fullback Thomas Ramos rewarded Toulouse for their encouraging first-quarter performance but Exeter were first to cross for a try as tighthead Williams squeezed over from close-range.

sam-skinner-comes-up-against-jerome-kaino Rogan Thomson / INPHO Sam Skinner carries for the Chiefs. Rogan Thomson / INPHO / INPHO

The French side replied in impressive fashion as they cut the Chiefs to shreds down the right, Cheslin Kolbe’s brilliant footwork integral again, then spread the ball wide to the left for Albert Placines, on for injured lock Rory Arnold, to score.

Exeter struck back before the break though as impactful number eight Simmonds forced his way over this time, with Joe converting for a 14-11 half-time lead. 

The excitement continued after the break but Exeter were able to finally get some breathing space on the scoreboard as the game entered the final quarter, Williams burrowing his way over again and Simmonds adding the extras for the third time.

And the result was put beyond doubt as wing Tom O’Flaherty broke on a set-piece play, then out-half and captain Simmonds dummied a pass before rounding underneath the posts for a try he converted himself.

Replacement Matthis Lebel did grab a nice consolation score for Toulouse with five minutes left but Exeter can now look forward to a huge European final.

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Exeter scorers:

Tries: Harry Williams [2], Sam Simmonds, Joe Simmonds

Conversions: Joe Simmonds [4 from 4]

Toulouse scorers:

Tries: Albert Placines, Matthis Lebel

Conversion: Thomas Ramos [1 from 2]

Penalties: Thomas Ramos [2 from 3].

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