Saracens see off Exeter at Twickenham

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Saracens were crowned Aviva Premiership champions for a third time in four seasons after ending Exeter’s title reign at Twickenham.

First-half tries by number eight Billy Vunipola and wing Chris Wyles sent Saracens on the way to a 27-10 victory as Chiefs’ hopes of claiming a second successive Premiership crown dried up in the south-west London sunshine.

Wyles added a second touchdown after 47 minutes and there was no way back for Exeter after that as Saracens collected Premiership silverware for a fourth time in their history.

Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell, who will captain England on their three-Test tour to South Africa next month, kicked two conversions before going off 15 minutes from time, appearing to be in discomfort, with Ben Spencer adding a late penalty and Nathan Earle a 79th-minute try.

Exeter’s points came through an early Joe Simmonds penalty and a Gareth Steenson try that Steenson converted but despite finishing well clear of Saracens over the 22-game regular Premiership season, they could not withstand their opponents’ superior pace and power that was driven by man-of-the-match Mako Vunipola.

England head coach Eddie Jones looked on as Billy Vunipola, who overcame a hamstring injury concern to start the final and featured for an hour, opened Saracens’ account following an initial 15 minutes that Exeter dominated.

England Press Conference – Brighton Marina
England head coach Eddie Jones was in the Twickenham crowd (Gareth Fuller/PA).

Exeter forced the final’s first mistake when Saracens wing Sean Maitland spilled Chiefs scrum-half Nic White’s high kick, and then the defending champions did what they do best – keep possession and go through numerous phases.

There was also a high-risk element to Exeter’s passing game, which they continued with after Simmonds kicked them into a fifth-minute lead.

Exeter Chiefs v Saracens – Aviva Premiership – Final – Twickenham Stadium
Joe Simmonds kicked Exeter into an early lead (Paul Harding/PA).

It enabled Saracens to free their heavyweight ball-carriers, and Billy Vunipola touched down from close range for a try that Farrell converted.

Vunipola, who has endured an injury-hit season, initially looked as though he had taken a knock, but he quickly rejoined his team-mates before Saracens cut Exeter’s defence wide open.

Exeter Chiefs v Saracens – Aviva Premiership – Final – Twickenham Stadium
Billy Vunipola crosses for Saracens at Twickenham (Paul Harding/PA).

Exeter, having dominated initially, could not get their hands on the ball and they also lost captain Don Armand for a head injury assessment, with Thomas Waldrom going on for a final Chiefs experience before he returns to New Zealand.
Armand returned to the fray just before the break and Exeter managed to avoid further damage when Farrell sent a touchline penalty wide, meaning Saracens led 12-3 midway through an absorbing contest.

Exeter Chiefs v Saracens – Aviva Premiership – Final – Twickenham Stadium
Chris Wyles gave Exeter a mountain to climb with two tries (Andrew Matthews/PA).

Exeter rallied early in the final quarter, piling on pressure either side of Saracens’ replacement hooker Schalk Brits being sin-binned for pulling down a maul in his last game before retirement.

It proved only a short reprieve for Saracens as Steenson pounced from close range before converting his own try and giving Exeter a glimmer of hope, although ultimately it did not transpire.

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