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Saracens re-take Premiership title with dominant display against Exeter

The Vunipola brothers led the way for Mark McCall’s men as they dethroned Exeter.

SARACENS ARE CHAMPIONS of England for the third time in four years after a commanding 27-10  win over last year’s Premiership winners Exeter Chiefs in Twickenham.

Though the defending champs made for heavy going, Saracens wound up comfortable victors with four tries courtesy of Billy Vunipola, Chris Wyles and Nathan Earle.

Exeter Chiefs v Saracens - Aviva Premiership - Final - Twickenham Stadium Source: Paul Harding

In their fourth final in five years, Mark McCall’s men didn’t panic when the early Chiefs pressure and possession yielded a Joe Simmonds penalty. Billy Vunipola, back from injury in time for the business end of the domestic season, powered through Sam Simmonds to ground the opening try on 14 minutes and Sarries had real breathing space by the end of the first quarter as the retiring Wyles finished off a slick back-line move to help his side into a 12-3 half-time lead.

Last season, Exeter knocked the back-to-back European champions out at the semi-final stage and took the title in a dramatic extra-time win over Wasps.

However, with Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Brad Barritt in trophy-winning mood and the immense Vunipola brothers leading the carrying threat, this year’s final rarely looked likely to be as close.

Dominant rumbles forward from the pack and seamless passing from Alex Lozowski and Alex Goode laid on a second try Wyles five minutes after the break.

Farrell converted and Twickenham was under the impression a procession was under way until another retiring Sarries stalwart, Schalk Brits, took the field for his last game in the 52nd minute. However, his victory lap was cut short by a yellow card as the Chiefs built pressure before the hour mark and the South African collapsed a maul.

Exeter Chiefs v Saracens - Aviva Premiership - Final - Twickenham Stadium Source: Paul Harding

The 14 men were easier to stretch for the Chiefs and Dave Ewers thought he had a try only for referee Wayne Barnes to signal he was held up. A mere stay of execution; Ulster native Gareth Steenson, on as a replacement, was the one to get the ball down after carrying through contact. The veteran out-half slotted the conversion to breathe hope into the contest with the margin down to 19-10.

That hope was soon snuffed out, however, the European pedigree coming to the fore as Saracens tightened up, gained territory and built pressure to force a penalty for Ben Spencer to extend the advantage and, for good measure, Earle capped victory with a fourth try.

The champions, and the best team through the 22-game regular season, dethroned.

Saracens are back on top in England.

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Sean Farrell

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