Henry Slade fires two-try salvo to inspire Exeter and keep Lions interested

Henry Slade put a difficult week behind him with a man-of-the-match display as rampant Exeter trounced Newcastle.

The England star had found himself at the eye of a social media storm after he was reported as saying he would not have a covid jab because he "didn't agree with it all”.

Slade’s rugby showed no ill-affects as he helped himself to two of Exeter’s 12 tries and was hailed by Lawrence Dallaglio as a “cut above” every other player on show.

Chiefs’ points spree added up to their best ever Premiership win and with two games to play the champions remain on track for a home play-off semi-final.

“Henry did his talking on the field,” said Chiefs coach Ali Hepher. “Look at how he performed – that shows how good a character he is.

“The way he allows everyone to play around him is phenomenal. He can get the ball into space and he’s got one of the highest skillsets in world rugby.”

Where Slade has been affected is missing out on Lions selection and, like England team mates Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler, is using the snub to fuel his performances.

“I watched Kyle’s [emotional] interview and I think that summed up how the players who missed out felt," he said.

“I was absolutely gutted but I’ve tried to channel it in the right way and play as well as I can for Exeter. I don’t wish injury on anyone but I want to keep playing well to stay in the picture.”

He was front centre of the picture at Sandy Park where Newcastle were never at the races as Exeter revelled in the return of fans for the first time this year.

The only surprise was that Sam Simmonds managed just the one try, becoming the first man in Premiership history to score 20 tries in a season.

Sam Skinner had the 4,000 crowd on its feet early on, with Simmonds going over from a driving maul soon after. Tries by Alex Cuthbert and Slade secured the bonus point before half-time.

Jacques Vermeulen scored either side of the break as Falcons, 11th in a league with no relegation, fell away in the Devon sunshine.

Slade then appeared on the shoulder of Tom O’Flaherty to claim his second before Stuart Hogg came off the bench to work Joe Simmonds over.

Hogg was Newcastle’s worst nightmare, injecting fresh energy into Chiefs and he added number 10 before Harvey Skinner and O’Flaherty completed the rout.

EXETER – Tries: S Skinner, S Simmonds, Cuthbert, Slade 2, Vermeulen 2, J Simmonds, Ewers, Hogg, O’Flaherty, H Skinner. Cons: J Simmonds 7.

NEWCASTLE – Pen: Flood.

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