Aviva Premiership semi-final review: Exeter and Saracens progress

Last Updated May 19 2018, 21:46Rugby Union
Exeter's Nic White crashes over the line
Exeter's Nic White crashes over the line

Match-by-match reports for the Aviva Premiership semi-finals, as Exeter and Saracens saw out hard-fought victories...

Exeter 36-5 Newcastle

Reigning champions Exeter will face Saracens in next Saturday's Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham after cruising to victory against Newcastle.

The Falcons' Premiership play-off debut proved a deflating affair at Sandy Park as Exeter romped home 36-5.

The Chiefs never looked back after building a 16-point interval advantage through scrum-half Nic White's try, plus three penalties and a conversion from his half-back partner Joe Simmonds.

Newcastle were never remotely allowed into the contest, having to stage a prolonged defensive rearguard as Exeter pulled further away through tries by wing Olly Woodburn and flanker Don Armand, two more penalties and another Simmonds conversion as he finished with 19 points, while Gareth Steenson added the final conversion.

Alex Tait claimed a consolation try for Newcastle, but their impressive campaign - they finished fourth in the table, reached a first league play-off and were European Challenge Cup semi-finalists - ended on an afternoon when they were dominated in every key department.

This season's Premiership final will be a repeat of the 2016 title showdown - Saracens beat Exeter 28-20 on that occasion - and will see England's top two teams following the 22-game regular season going head to head.

If Exeter win, they will become only the third club after Leicester, Wasps and Saracens to successfully defend Premiership silverware in the competition's 20-year history.

Post-match reaction

Exeter's Rob Baxter: "I am very pleased. While winning is great, the manner of our win is very pleasing.

"We knew we would have to work very hard against a team that is very resilient in defence and has a lot of collective belief.

"The way the game went, those points took some scoring. We had to have a lot of possession into the wind, work extremely hard and build our performance.

"What we had was a performance glued together. It was glued together for longer than Newcastle managed, and that has made the difference in the scoreline.

"I said to the players that it may not feel like it sometimes, but I don't feel like I have watched us play a game when we have had so much control for such a long period.

"I did the defensive review at half time and there was not a lot to talk about.

"I asked them 'what's the best thing about our defence?' and they said 'we have not had to do anything,' which was exactly right. We kept the ball, and if you keep the ball it is the best way to defend."

Falcons rugby director Dean Richards said: "We made some uncharacteristic errors.

"The boys did not freeze on the day, they just did not capitalise on what opportunities they had.

"We talked about their possession in the first half, but it came about by us losing a couple of lineouts, losing a scrum and turning over the ball. If you get all those bits right, then that gives us a chance."

Saracens 57-33 Wasps

Owen Farrell of Saracens kicks a penalty

Owen Farrell's flawless goalkicking helped Saracens overwhelm Wasps 57-33 in an action-packed Aviva Premiership semi-final at Allianz Park.

With the try count 6-5 in Saracens' favour, it was Farrell's (pictured, above) unblemished 27-point haul that really made the difference after Dai Young's swashbuckling underdogs had burst into life having trailed 30-5 early in the second half.

A relentless display by the home pack underpinned a victory that secures a place in next Saturday's final at Twickenham, but once the game had opened up it was Wasps who set pulses racing in glorious conditions.

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