Rugby: Sara­cens win English Pre­mier­ship to com­plete dou­ble

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

LON­DON—Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Sara­cens held off a thrilling rally from Ex­eter Chiefs to re­tain their Pre­mier­ship ti­tle with a 28-20 vic­tory and com­plete the first dou­ble by an English club since 2004.

A fort­night on from their vic­tory over Rac­ing 92 in the Cham­pi­ons Cup final, Mark McCall’s men looked set to record an em­phatic win at Twick­en­ham when tries from Dun­can Tay­lor and Chris Wyles put them 20 points clear prior to half-time.

How­ever, Ex­eter re­fused to give up in their first Pre­mier­ship final and got back within three points cour­tesy of sec­ond-half scores from Jack Ye­an­dle and Jack Now­ell, set­ting up a grand­stand fi­nale.

Some­what fit­tingly, it was Alex Goode - the com­pe­ti­tion’s player of the year - who set­tled Sara­cens’ nerves, scor­ing the game’s fifth and final try with just four minutes re­main­ing.

Sara­cens there­fore em­u­late Wasps’ achieve­ment of 12 years ago by adding the English do­mes­tic crown to their Euro­pean ti­tle, having fin­ished the sea­son with 10 straight wins in all com­pe­ti­tions.

Owen Far­rell landed three penal­ties to Gareth Steen­son’s one prior to be­ing in­volved in each of his side’s first-half tries as Sar­ries seized con­trol.

A won­der­ful break through centre field from Schalk Brits gave Sara­cens a promis­ing platform deep in Ex­eter ter­ri­tory and, with ad­van­tage be­ing played, Far­rell de­liv­ered a per­fectly weighted grub­ber kick to the left cor­ner, where Tay­lor was all alone to com­plete the sim­plest of fin­ishes.

Things got worse for Ex­eter three minutes later as Wyles col­lected a floated pass from Far­rell, which ap­peared to go for­ward, and shrugged off a weak tackle from Henry Slade to go over on the same flank.

A sec­ond Steen­son penalty re­duced the Chiefs’ ar­rears and Rob Bax­ter’s side also started the sec­ond half brightly, gain­ing re­ward when Ye­an­dle’s try jus­ti­fied their decision to kick for touch rather than tak­ing an­other three points.

With their phys­i­cal­ity sud­denly pos­ing prob­lems, Ex­eter again turned down a shot at goal five minutes later, but failed to add to their score on this oc­ca­sion as Slade knocked on.

How­ever, Slade was then heav­ily in­volved as Now­ell went over in the right cor­ner, leav­ing Sara­cens - who handed a farewell ap­pear­ance to re­tir­ing fly-half Char­lie Hodgson in the clos­ing stages - ex­tremely grate­ful for Goode’s late score.—Agen­cies

Sara­cens be­come the first side to win all nine of their matches on to way to Euro­pean glory.

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