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ad­van­tage in the Premier­ship fi­nal against Sara­cens last year started to rear their head. But when they re­ally needed to, Ex­eter’s de­fence held firm in the face of a 19-phase siege be­fore Joe Sim­monds’s last-minute penalty sealed the vic­tory.

“This group of play­ers have had a lot of heartache and they have never backed away or not kept fight­ing,” Bax­ter said. “I think it is a huge vin­di­ca­tion for them of how they have kept work­ing, kept fight­ing, kept try­ing, al­ways look­ing to take the next step for­ward and to­day I think they have taken a huge one.”

It was cathar­tic for cen­tre Slade, al­most 12 months on from los­ing the World Cup fi­nal with Eng­land. “I was just think­ing ear­lier ac­tu­ally, yesterday, that win­ning this would make me feel way bet­ter,” Slade said.

In many places this is be­ing de­scribed as a fairy tale come true, writ­ten by the sons of farm­ers, trawler­men and butch­ers. Yet there is no se­cret sup­ply of pixie dust at Sandy Park, but hard work by a group of ex­cel­lent play­ers. Man of the match Joe Sim­monds, player of the tour­na­ment Sam Sim­monds and sec­ond row Jonny Hill are play­ing the best rugby of any English play­ers in their po­si­tion, but in­di­ca­tions are that they will not be in­cluded in Jones’s squad for the au­tumn matches. Go fig­ure.

If there is a nar­ra­tive it should be one of hope that any club with the right back­ing and es­pe­cially the right coach can scale Ever­est.

Bax­ter, mean­while, is al­ready plot­ting the sec­ond leg of the dou­ble. You only hope he finds the time to savour his own per­sonal ac­com­plish­ment. “The game hap­pened, the re­sult hap­pened and all those things hap­pened, but now we are sit­ting in a quiet, con­crete bowl and it doesn’t feel real,” Bax­ter said. “That’s prob­a­bly what is hold­ing back the re­al­ity which will prob­a­bly come over the next cou­ple of days.”

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