Exeter Chiefs are now just a win away from back-to-back LV= Cup triumphs but fly-half Ceri Sweeney admits his side will have to be at their very best to down Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens next Sunday.
The Chiefs sealed their place in consecutive finals with a hard-fought 30-22 win over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, crossing for three tries through Elvis Taione, Fetu'u Vainikolo and Greg Bateman.
Tommy Bell kicked 17 points for the hosts, who also scored a try through Michele Rizzo, but the Chiefs were not to be denied and they have made it consecutive LV= Cup finals.
Sweeney also kicked 15 points in the semi-final win and the fly-half admits Saracens, conquerors of Northampton Saints in Saturday’s first semi-final, will take some stopping.
“It’s great to get back in the final again the second year running,” he said.
“It was an outstanding effort by the team today I thought, Leicester threw everything at us up front and behind and we stood up, knocked them over and have come away with the victory.
“We are very proud of wining it last year, our first bit of silverware, and we have certainly gone out this year to defend it, we have really bought into that and hopefully we can go one better again next week.”
Sarries are certain to be no pushovers, indeed the Chiefs have already lost to the North London outfit in the Pool stages of this season’s LV= Cup.
But Sweeney is confident he and his teammates can learn their lessons in time for Sunday’s showpiece final.
“It’s a tough ask again, we have already played them this season and lost but we certainly know what they are all about,” he added.
“It will be a very physical game with a big powerful team so we will have to go back next week, have a look at the analysis and see if we can defend that.”
Meanwhile Saracens coach Joe Shaw is confident that he and his troops are ready to add LV= Cup glory to the Aviva A-League silverware they claimed back in January.
“The journey from this playing group has been pretty special. The majority of this side played their part in the A League success and they formed a really strong bond during that campaign,” he said.
“They went to some fantastic places and got some really impressive wins. Going to play the Ospreys away at The Gnoll is always an ‘interesting’ experience for young players, to beat Exeter and Harlequins who had strong sides out on those occasions, and beating London Welsh who had a first team out that day was great.
“To carry that on by beating a really tough team such as Northampton, with such an experienced pack, is another great experience. We’ll get in on Monday, sit-down and start planning for next weekend.”
Saracens 24 Northampton Saints 20
Tries: Strettle, Ellery
Penalties: Spencer 3
Tries: Olver, Dickson
Conversions: Olver, Myler
Penalties: Olver 2
Referee: Dean Richards
Leicester Tigers 22 Exeter Chiefs 30
Penalty: Bell 4
Tries: Taione, Vainikolo, Bateman
Conversions: Sweeney 3
Penalties: Sweeney 3
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
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