Exeter Chiefs 29 Harlequins 13 – Match report: Stunning O'Flaherty try helps

Tom O’Flaherty’s stellar solo try was the pick of the bunch as Exeter Chiefs rounded off their Premiership Rugby Cup block with a bonus point victory over Harlequins.

Winger O’Flaherty has been used sparingly by the Chiefs since joining from the Ospreys in 2017, but he showed exactly what he can do when given the opportunity after slicing his way through broken play from the half-way line to bag a sumptuous solo effort.

It was one of five tries Exe scored as they eased past a lacklustre Quins outfit to sign off with two wins and a draw from their first three games in the newfangled competition and ensure they returned to the top of Pool One.

Perhaps the one downside for Exe was the sight of Mitch Lees, James Freeman and Jack Innard all hobbling off with injuries inside the first 20 minutes.

Lees will be a particular concern given this was his first appearance since return from surgery on his shoulder over the summer.

Out on the pitch, it was not all plain sailing. The visitors started brightly and applied some heavy pressure and dominated territory in the opening 20 minutes.

But they paid the price for only scoring three points during that period – talented youngster Marcus Smith booted a long-range penalty before shanking another one wide – before the Chiefs ran riot.

Dave Ward grabbed a late consolation try, converted by Smith.

Having shown great character to defend their tryline during Quins’ spell of dominance, Richard Capstick, Billy Keast, O’Flaherty and Tom Lawday – aided by a Joe Simmonds conversion – ensured the try bonus point was wrapped up by half-time.

Simmonds converted his own score after the break as the hosts saw out a comfortable win.

That Exeter won by such a comfortable margin came as some surprise give the bright start made by Quins, who simply had no answer once the Devonians started to stretch their legs.

But after Smith’s penalty – awarded after a breakdown offence after just two minutes – the Chiefs dominated the scoreboard.

Capstick drove over from close range in what was the Chiefs’ first real foray into Quins territory. Keast then powered over with Simmonds converting, before O’Flaherty scored his stunning try.

Smith cut the deficit with another penalty, before Stu Townsend was desperately unlucky not to be awarded a try after clearly grounding against the base of the post.

But the Chiefs only had moments to wait for their fourth – and the bonus point – as Lawday bundled over.

Simmonds added his name to the list of try-scorers as he finished off a fine move following O’Flaherty’s unselfish pass before nailing the conversion.

Ward managed a late try which Smith converted, but Ricky Pellow and co have every reason to be happy with their afternoon’s work.

Exeter Chiefs: J Simmonds; O’Flaherty, Hendrickson, S Hill (Bodilly, 68), Cuthbert (Short, 60); H Skinner, Townsend (J Maunder, 50); Keast (Kenny, 59), Innard (Taione, 10), Street (Petch), Lees (Dennis, 29), Van der Sluys, Caulfield, Freeman (Capstick, 19), Lawday

Scorers, tries: Capstick, Keast, O’Flaherty, Lawday, J Simmonds. Cons: J Simmonds (2)

Harlequins: Chisholm (Ward, HT); Walker (Visser, 50), Morris, Tapuai, Murley; Smith, Saunders (Lewis, HT); Boyce (Auterac, 50), Elia (Crumpton, 55), Collier (Swainston, 53), Symons, Lamb (Glynn, 39), White, Wallace (Cheeseman, HT), Dombrandt (Elia, 68)

Scorers, tries: Ward Cons: Smith Pens: Smith (2)

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys. Attendance: 11,927