Premiership: Harlequins 24-62 Exeter Chiefs

By Brendon MitchellBBC Sport
Jack Nowell
England and Exeter wing Jack Nowell was in razor-sharp form with a hat-trick of tries
Harlequins (10) 24
Tries: Care, Sinckler, Stanley Cons: Evans, Botica 2 Pen: Evans
Exeter Chiefs (17) 62
Tries: Short 2, Nowell 3, Ewers, Dollman, Chudley, Slade, Salvi Cons: Steenson 6
Relive the final day of the Premiership season

Exeter ran in 10 tries to inflict a humiliating defeat on Harlequins and secure a home semi-final in their maiden Premiership play-off campaign.

The Chiefs, who host third-placed Wasps in the last four, also denied Quins a place in the top six following wins for Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks.

Exeter, who had been 17-10 up at half-time, ran riot in the second half as the Harlequins defence fell apart.

Henry Slade starred at centre, while wing Jack Nowell scored a hat-trick.

Dave Ewers, Phil Dollman, Will Chudley and Julian Salvi also crossed for the Chiefs, while James Short's brace and Slade's well-deserved score capped an emphatic display of attacking rugby at The Stoop.

Premiership play-off semi-final line-up
Saracens v Leicester (Saturday, 21 May - 12:30 BST)
Exeter v Wasps (Saturday, 21 May - 15:15 BST)

The collapse of Quins

For all of Exeter's style and panache, the second-half collapse of Quins will greatly concern director of rugby Conor O'Shea ahead of their European Challenge Cup final against Montpellier next Friday.

O'Shea, who was leading the team at The Stoop for the last time before becoming head coach of Italy, now has just six days to pick his players up for his swansong in Lyon.

The one saving grace for Harlequins is that, if they are able to lift the Challenge Cup next week, they will still secure a spot in next season's Champions Cup.

Danny Care's try on the stroke of half-time had kept the hosts in contention against Exeter, but the Chiefs were too strong after the break, despite further scores from Kyle Sinckler and Winston Stanley.

Read Saturday's other top Premiership reports
Newcastle 15-21 Sale
Gloucester 20-28 Northampton
Wasps 38-12 London Irish

Can the Chiefs become the champions?

Exeter Chiefs
Exeter and Wasps have scored more tries than any other team in the Premiership, with both having managed 71

Exeter, who had never finished higher than fifth before this season, are now two wins away from lifting their first top-flight title.

Centre Slade and wing Nowell are likely to hold the key if they are to get past Wasps and reach the final at Twickenham, with both also looking strong contenders to start for England during the summer tour of Australia.

The fine form of Slade, whose brilliant offload to Short and arrowed pass for Nowell set up Exeter's first two tries, will be particularly pleasing for national coach Eddie Jones, after the 23-year-old was forced to miss much of this season with a broken leg.

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea:

"In my first full season here we finished seventh and won the Challenge Cup, so hopefully we can bookmark and finish seventh and win the Challenge Cup. But between now and next Friday no one will give us a chance.

"It's gut-wrenching to see a team play so far below what they have and they can. That's the hard part.

"We have a good group of players, I know my image of this group isn't what happened out there but it's the image we have to carry with us into the summer, unless we can show the steel of sports people."

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter:

"If a semi-final at home at Sandy Park doesn't bring our best game of the season out of us then we probably don't deserve to be there.

"That's very much what I'll say to the players - let's be prepared to play the best game we've played because the occasion deserves it. We go there looking on good form both try scoring and defensively."

Harlequins: Brown; Yarde, Stanley, Roberts, Chisholm; Evans, Care (capt); Lambert, Ward, Collier, Merrick, Matthews, Robshaw, Clifford, Easter.

Replacements: Buchanan, Evans, Sinckler, Twomey, Luamanu, Dickson, Botica, Marchant.

Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Nowell, Slade, Hill, Short; Steenson, Chudley; Hepburn, Yeandle (capt), Williams, Lees, Welch, Ewers, Salvi, Waldrom.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Moon, Rimmer, Parling, Horstmann, Lewis, Whitten, Woodburn.

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