Saracens produced another magnificent fightback in a rip-roaring Premiership final to beat Exeter Chiefs 37-34 and complete the double.
Mark McCall’s side rallied to dethrone Leinster in the European Champions Cup final at St James’ Park three weeks ago and they roared back to retain their Premiership title at a sun-soaked Twickenham on Saturday too.
Sarries trailed by 11 points midway through the second half in a classic battle, but they were not to be denied another Premiership and Champions Cup double three years after winning both trophies.
The Chiefs started well as Nic White scored after 25 seconds and Exeter led 22-16 at the end of a breathless first half, Dave Ewers and Jonny Hill also going over following scores from Jamie George and Ben Spencer.
Exeter were winning the physical battle and Henry Slade’s try gave them breathing space, but Liam Williams, Sean Matland and George crossed to give never-say-die Sarries a fifth domestic title.
Owen Farrell had a mixed afternoon from the tee, but nailed two difficult conversions in the second half and Sam Hill’s try right at the end came too late on what proved to be a painful afternoon for Exeter, who lost Jack Nowell to a leg injury.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) June 1, 2019
The Chiefs fans were in fine voice before the game started and they were in full cry after George Kruis made a misjudgement from the kick-off and White pounced to score in the first minute when the ball went loose.
Saracens made a sharp response, George dotting down with Exeter unable to stop a catch and drive with Slade in the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.
Farrell failed to convert but was on target with a penalty to put Sarries in front and the holders stretched their lead to six points when Spencer outfoxed Exeter with a dummy before reaching out to score.
Rob Baxter’s men hit back following another failure from Farrell to add the extras, knocking at the door with phase after phase and getting their rewards when Ewers crashed over with the brilliant Maro Itoje in the bin before Jonny Hill touched down from close range.
Exeter were dominant late in the first half but had to settle for a penalty from in front of the posts to take a 22-16 lead into the break after Sarries defended for their lives.
Nick Tompkins replaced captain Brad Barritt at half-time and Richard Wigglesworth came on early in the second half with Spencer off for a Head Injury Assessment.
Uncharacteristic handling errors prevented Saracens from building any momentum and Sam Skinner’s storming run and offload set up Slade for the fourth Exeter try just before the hour-mark.
Exeter must have known Saracens would not go down without a fight and Williams scored after leaping above Joe Simmonds to take a towering cross-field kick from Farrell, who converted expertly from the touchline.
Sarries smelt blood and Maitland burst over with Exeter outnumbered after the quick-thinking Wigglesworth burst through a gap, with Farrell again on target from wide on the left.
Exeter did not know what had hit them and suffered another blow when England wing Nowell limped off before Hill crashed over for a try which was no consolation for the 2016-17 champions.
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