Exeter's Henry Slade wary of Saracens ahead of Aviva Premiership finale

Last Updated May 24 2018, 14:20Rugby Union
Henry Slade scores for Exeter
Henry Slade scores for Exeter

Henry Slade feels that Exeter will face a Saracens side with "threats everywhere" in their quest for a second successive Aviva Premiership title.

This season's Twickenham finalists arrive at English rugby's headquarters on Saturday in imperious form.

Exeter have won their last 10 games in all competitions, while Saracens are on a six-match run of success that has seen them total almost 300 points.

The clubs also dominated the Premiership's 22-game regular reason, with Exeter finishing top by eight points and Saracens having a six-point margin over third-placed Wasps.

Exeter will become only the fourth club after Leicester, Wasps and Saracens to successfully defend Premiership silverware if they win, while Saracens are chasing a third domestic title in the last four seasons.

Sky Bet make Saracens narrow 4/6 favourites with Exeter at 11/10.

"To beat Saracens - they are a top side - you have got to be good in all areas," Chiefs and England centre Slade said.

"There are threats everywhere, and we have got to be smart all over the pitch.

"We saw that a couple of years ago (2016 Premiership final), when they got a big lead and it was a mountain to climb for us in the second half. I think we are a much better team than what we were then.

"When it comes down to it, nothing previous matters. We know what the task in hand is, and we are just really looking forward to getting out there.

"Us and Saracens were first and second in the league, and both won our home semi-finals. It is going to be exciting, and I would say it is probably going to be pretty tight."

Exeter look set to field just four starting XV survivors in their line-up from last year's final in Jack Nowell, Olly Woodburn, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Don Armand, which says everything about squad development and emergence of exciting young talent like Joe Simmonds, his brother Sam, and lock Jonny Hill.

And Slade is an admirer of an evolutionary process that has helped the Chiefs retain a seat at English rugby's top table.

"We've got a lot of young boys in the team," he added.

"There are a load of us that have been playing together for a long, long time, and playing with a load of your best mates on occasions like a Premiership final is great.

"We are playing well as a team, and individuals are shining on the back of that. It is really pleasing to see more and more boys getting a look-in in terms of international rugby.

"The mood is really good. We are taking a lot of confidence from this season and how it has been going in recent weeks.

"I think the first (Premiership) final we maybe let the occasion get to us in the first half and had a bit of a slow start, although we brought it back a bit in the second half, but realistically probably gave ourselves a bit too much to do.

"At the start of the following season, we started a bit slowly. You have got to scrap for everything in this league, and we sat down as a group and spoke about that. We then went on a long unbeaten run.

"That change in mindset was a big shift for us, and we have done well this season, finishing the season top and getting a home semi-final. We have got to carry it on to the final."

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