Saracens 37-34 Exeter: Sarries win the Gallagher Premiership final to complete the double

Saracens win the Gallagher Premiership title to complete the double
Saracens win the Gallagher Premiership title to complete the double

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

Scroll down for match highlights and post-match reaction

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, who were underdogs despite finishing the regular season eight points clear at the summit, led by 11 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 against Leinster three weeks ago with another trophy.

Sarries, who have now won the Premiership title five times since their first ever triumph in 2010-11, can now celebrate their second European-domestic double having also achieved the feat in 2015/16 season. They are the second English club to do this, with Leicester being the other.

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.

Post-match reaction

Man of the match Maro Itoje told BT Sport: "It (the game) is hard to put it into words to be honest. We've been working towards this all year and just a big credit to all the team and support staff.

"It's getting harder every year, every year we have to dig a little deeper, fair play to Exeter, they're a top top side. They're by far the second-best team in the competition."

When asked about the situation at 27-16 down, Itoje added: "We had no choice really. We had to sit back and let it happen, lose this opportunity or go out there and give it our all and we had some fantastic leaders in that team. They got us, they galvanised us and we managed to get the score back.

"I think that game is all character. We didn't really play well to be honest, for large parts of that we didn't play well, we didn't give ourselves the best opportunity to play well but luckily we had enough time to rescue it.

"It means an awful lot to me on a personal level but I'm more happy for the squad. There's a lot of people who've put a lot of hours to make this performance happen today. I'm just happy for everyone involved in Saracens."

Brad Barritt said: "I think there's no quick success to everything, we learnt our lessons, in 2013 we lost both the Premiership and the European final. We use that as a galvanising tool to bring the squad closer together and not take things for granted. Today I think the team really really dug deep when they had to and that's what makes me most proud."

On this year's success, Barritt added: "I think they're all new, they're all new memories. There's guys who have been part of this squad for five years and there's guys who have been part of this squad for one year so for us each memory is as special as the other.

"We know that this was going to take a full-squad effort, not just today over the course of the Gallagher Premiership we've had 46 players used. Today the boys who pulled it through in the second half were unbelievable."

Exeter captain Jack Yeandle said: "There's a lot of that game where we were in charge, the scoreline showed that, some of the actions on the pitch showed that and we really had our tails up.

"You've got to give Saracens full credit there for the way they came back at us."

On whether he thought his side could win at 27-16 up, he said: "I'll be honest yes, particularly with the boys on the bench that we brought on. I fully believe in what those boys can bring and the levels they can bring. It hurts."

On what it could take to beat Saracens, Yeandle said: "Just keep those levels of belief, keep the hunger, use the hurt in the right way. I've got the give the whole squad, the backing staff, everyone the way we've played this season. We've stayed on task and we've stuck at what we've done.

"Immensely proud of the boys and what they've done. It's been a good season we just stumbled at the last hurdle."

Saracens honours

  • European Rugby Champions Cup
    • Champions: 2015–16, 2016–17, 2018–19
    • Runners–Up: 2013–14
  • English Premiership
    • Champions: 2010–11, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018-19
    • Runners–Up: 1997–98, 2009–10, 2013–14
  • Anglo–Welsh Cup
    • Champions): 1997–98, 2014–15
    • Runners–Up: 2018–19
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