Saracens complete double after beating Exeter in thrilling Premiership final

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Saracens completed a memorable European and domestic double after retaining the Premiership title by beating Exeter 37-34 at Twickenham.

The teams shared 10 tries during unquestionably the greatest Premiership final in its 16-year history.

Exeter led after just 28 seconds when scrum-half Nic White claimed the quickest Premiership final touchdown, but Saracens ultimately prevailed.

The Chiefs led by 11 points after an hour, yet Saracens produced a stellar comeback.

Wings Liam Williams and Sean Maitland touched down, following earlier tries from hooker Jamie George and scrum-half Ben Spencer, before George added a second and Farrell kicked 12 points.

White, flanker Dave Ewers, lock Jonny Hill, centre Henry Slade and substitute Sam Hill crossed for Exeter, and Joe Simmonds added three conversions and a penalty, but the Chiefs once again experienced Twickenham heartbreak.

It was the third time in four seasons for the 2017 champions to lose a final – all against Saracens – as Farrell and company followed up European title success three weeks ago with another trophy.

And it meant a second double in four years, emulating Leicester as only the second English club to achieve such a feat.

Both teams were unchanged following their play-off victories last weekend, with Saracens captain Brad Barritt overcoming a hamstring injury that forced him off against Gloucester to start.

And the final began in remarkable fashion, with 12 points being scored inside the opening five minutes.

Exeter kicked off, but Saracens and England lock George Kruis fumbled possession, giving the Chiefs the chance to attack on front-foot ball and White crossed from close range for a try that Simmonds converted.

But Saracens responded, launching an initial attack that ended when Slade deliberately knocked on a pass from full-back Alex Goode to Maitland, and was sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes as a result.

Slade had barely left the pitch before Saracens drove a lineout from the resulting penalty, and George crashed over.

Farrell missed the conversion, but he landed a 35-metre penalty shortly afterwards and Saracens led 8-7 following a breathless start.

Saracens then extended their lead following a Billy Vunipola scrum charge that spread Exeter’s defence, and Spencer touched down to open up a 13-7 advantage.

Farrell again could not add the extras, and Exeter replied following another frantic passage of play that started with them laying siege to Saracens’ line.

Saracens were reduced to frantic defending, and flanker Maro Itoje, who was sin-binned during the Champions Cup final victory over Leinster, again saw yellow, and Exeter did not require a second invitation to pounce.

A man down, Saracens could not hold out under sustained pressure, and Ewers claimed Exeter’s second try before Smmonds’ conversion gave them a one-point advantage.

And the Chiefs moved further ahead nine minutes before the break when Slade and his England colleague Jack Nowell linked superbly in midfield, before Hill touched down.

Simmonds’ conversion glanced off the post, then Farrell booted a 40-metre penalty that cut the deficit to three points, but Simmonds responded and Exeter trooped off 22-16 ahead at the break.

Barritt, though, did not return for the second period, being replaced by Nick Tompkins, before Spencer went off for a head injury assessment as Saracens suffered a disruptive opening.

Saracens dominated much of the third quarter, but Exeter continued to hassle and chase them, making life distinctly uncomfortable for their opponents.

And such in-the-face-pressure was rewarded through a fourth try, with Slade the beneficiary following brilliant work by replacement lock Sam Skinner.

But Saracens responded again and Williams struck after a Farrell kick, with the fly-half’s conversion making it 27-23.

Maitland then crossed 12 minutes from time, with Farrell converting, and although the fly-half missed a later penalty chance, George’s second touchdown sealed the deal and Saracens were home, despite Hill’s late effort that Simmonds converted.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

Most popular

Related Sections

PRO14 report card: Leinster and Glasgow top of the class as Southern Kings fail

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Leinster saw off Glasgow on Saturday to clinch back-to-back PRO14 titles.

Here, we grade the performances of all 14 teams in the competition this season.

BENETTON

2018/19 record: Won 11, Lost 8, Drew 2

A stunning season for the Italian side with 11 victories, the same as last season, after winning just three, three and five in the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns respectively. Kieran Crowley’s team will have earned respect from their rivals due to their improvements in skillset, game plan and ability to play a more attractive brand of rugby.

Grade: B

CARDIFF BLUES
2018/19 record: Won 10, Lost 11

A fairly balanced season for the Blues, finishing fifth in their conference – one place worse than last season. Their 10 wins is similar to their three previous campaigns with triumphs over Munster (37-13) and back-to-back comprehensive wins over the Scarlets among their key results.

Grade: C

CHEETAHS
2018/19 record: Won 8, Lost 12, Drew 1

The Bloemfontein side were a breath of fresh air in their maiden campaign, reaching the quarter-finals, but struggled this year, with just eight victories. Notable scalps over Cardiff and Benetton will add positivity in the off-season. Need to continue to build momentum and tighten their defence in the off-season – they conceded 12 more tries than 2017-18.

Grade: D+

CONNACHT
2018/19 record: Won 12, Lost 9

A blistering season for the Irish side after a subpar 2017-18 season where they won just seven times. Reached the knock-out stages of the league and qualified for next season’s Champions Cup in the process. Under new boss Andy Friend, they look a revitalised outfit and continue to play an attractive and exciting brand a rugby.

Grade: B

DRAGONS
2018/19 record: Won 5, Draw 1, Lost 15

An improvement upon their previous campaign but they still only managed to finish second from bottom in their conference above Southern Kings. With only 22 per cent win record in their last 100 fixtures, new director of rugby Dean Ryan will have his work cut out for him. The Englishman needs to inspire a team who have only won one away match since March 2015.

Grade: D

EDINBURGH
2018/19 record: Won 10, Lost 11

Won five less games than the previous season and only managed to finish fifth in their conference. Victories over Leinster and Connacht will surely have added some bite and drive into a burgeoning side who also reached the quarter-finals in the Champions Cup. Need to step up again next season. Boast the league’s best player in No8 Bill Mata.

Grade: B-

GLASGOW WARRIORS
2018/19 record: Won 16, Lost 5

The Scottish club continue to go from strength to strength and played some scintillating rugby across the season. With a 76-per cent win ratio this campaign, the Ryan Wilson-led outfit showed dominance and ruthlessness to finish top of their conference before crashing to a 18-15 defeat against Leinster in the final.

Grade: A

LEINSTER
2018/19 record: Won 15, Draw 1, Lost 5

The league champions showed plenty of quality and are now on the brink of sealing a fourth domestic title in even years. To underline their squad depth in this competition, Leo Cullen used 57 players during the 21 regular season matches. Scored 12 more tries than any other team.

Grade: A+

MUNSTER
2018/19 record: Won 16, Lost 5

A tight semi-final defeat to Leinster cannot be underestimated and for large parts of the season, Johann van Graan’s side played an attractive and efficient brand of rugby. A mix of youth and experience served them well, with star man Tadhg Beirne stepping up superbly over the course of the campaign. Boast the best defensive record in the league.

Grade: B+

OSPREYS
2018/19 record: Won 12, Lost 9

A vast improvement. They were the only Welsh team to qualify for the Champions Cup next season and finished highest out of the Welsh regions in the PRO14. With Alun Wyn-Jones and George North in superb form, confidence looks high again at Liberty Stadium.

Grade: B-

SCARLETS
2018/19 record: Won 10, Lost 11

Poor season for a team who were dominant for the two previous campaigns. They failed to qualify for the Champions Cup for the first time since 2003 and lost five more games than the 2017-18 season. Many fans blamed the early announcement of Wayne Pivac as Wales boss as the turning point of their disastrous season.

Grade: C-

SOUTHERN KINGS
2018/19 record: Won 2, Draw 1 Lost 18

Hard to draw many positives for the Port Elizabeth-based side in their second season. Wins over Glasgow and Edinburgh will represent a glimmer of postivity, but overall, they were a team lacking any creativity and consistency with ball in hand. Defensively, the gaps grew as the season progressed and they shipped a woeful 735 points.

Grade: F

ULSTER
2018/19 record: Won 13, Draw 2, Lost 6

Reached the semi-finals of the PRO14 and quarter-finals of the Champions Cup, a significant achievement with a make-shift squad. En route to booking their place in the last four of the league, they finished second in their conference behind Leinster. In Marcel Coetzee, they boast one of the most powerful and inspirational players in the British Isles.

Grade: B+

ZEBRE
2018/19 record: Won 3, Lost 18

After a strong 2017-18 campaign where they won a franchise record seven matches, the Italian side look like they have slipped back to their old ways, yielding just three victories this term. They also scored 15 less tries and conceded eight more than the previous campaign.

Grade: F

Most popular

Related Sections

Ireland's Sean O'Brien ruled out of Rugby World Cup

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Sean O'Brien

Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien will miss this autumn’s Rugby World Cup after Leinster confirmed he is set to undergo hip surgery.

O’Brien, who will swap newly-crowned PRO14 champions Leinster for London Irish later this year, faces up to six months on the sidelines.

The 32-year-old has struggled with a string of injuries across a standout Leinster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions career, but still boasts 56 caps for his country.

Injury denied O’Brien a place in Leinster’s squad for Saturday’s 18-15 final victory over Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park but he still lifted the trophy following the win.

A statement issued on Leinster’s official website read: “Unfortunately (head coach Leo) Cullen has confirmed that back row Sean O’Brien – who lifted the PRO14 trophy yesterday in Celtic Park on behalf of the 57 Leinster players that had competed over the 23 game domestic season – will undergo surgery in the next few weeks for a hip injury and as a result will be ruled out of action for up to six months.

“As a result he has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

Most popular

Related Sections