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Match Reaction: Saracens 28 Exeter Chiefs 20


Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is excited to see what his side can achieve in the future after they completed an historic double at Twickenham on Saturday.

Tries from Duncan Taylor, Chris Wyles and man of the match Alex Goode held off a valiant Exeter Chiefs fightback to seal back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby titles.

And with McCall’s side having also won the European Champions Cup earlier this month – they have equalled the achievement of Wasps back in 2004.

And McCall cannot wait to see what else his young side can achieve in the future.

“The age-profile of the team is good, everyone’s signed up for the next two or three seasons but the spine of the team is there,” he said.

“But the Premiership is getting stronger and stronger, Exeter will come back harder, so we have to stay hungry and stay motivated and keep pushing ourselves on.

“You get concerned in a three point game, but give Exeter credit, all season they've been a terrific 80-minute team, and they brought it to us in the second half."

But McCall shrugged off talk of a dynasty as his Saracens side joined Wasps and Leicester Tigers as the only English sides to complete domestic and European double.

“We all remember what it felt like losing two finals in a row two years ago, the last one here in the last second of extra time was painful, the hardest it gets, but to have the two seasons we've just had, winning it last season and CC semi-final and going one better this year is special,” he added.  

“We play 33 matches, losing four, and that's not a bad record. We don't pick and choose, we get up for every match.”

For Rob Baxter and the Exeter Chiefs it was a case of what might have been after their sluggish start left them in a real hole.

Tries from Jack Yeandle and Jack Nowell brought them right back into the game however but it was too little too late.

But Baxter is sure his side will have learned a great deal from the experience.

“That first 40 minutes cost the game, but I don’t think we could have really done much beforehand to change all that,” he said.  

“We needed that first 30 minutes of the final, we needed to learn what that felt like and the experiences of it to the players.

“A lot of teams take up needing the whole game to learn, but we ended the first half pretty well and that gave us great confidence for what we wanted to do and we got better as the game went on.

“I think we dropped in to the danger of waiting for the next thing to happen, expecting the danger a bit too much as opposed to dealing with what was happening right there in front of us, and that took enough off us against a very good side.

"I don’t think it was to do with the size of the occasion, I think it was just being here, it’s a big final and I don’t think it hurt our physicality or our focus.

"The players were focussed in the hotel, they were great coming here, nobody was coming round taking selfies or laughing and joking and just thinking it was great to be here, they were focussed on playing a big game of rugby.

"Ultimately, we’ve done that, with five minutes to we were within three points of Saracens, which not many teams have done over recent weeks.”


SARACENS: Good,  Ashton, Taylor (Bosch 74), Barritt, Wyles, Farrell (Hodgson 68), Wigglesworth (De Kock 68); Vunipola M (Barrington 66), Brits (George 52),  Du Plessis (Figallo 52), Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes (Wray 52),  Fraser (Hamilton 71), Vunipola B.

TRIES: Taylor, Wyles, Goode
PENALTIES: Farrell 3

EXETER: Dollman, Nowell, Slade, Whitten (Campagnaro 68), Woodburn (Short 55), Steenson, Chudley (Lewis 65); Moon (Hepburn 47), Cowan-Dickie (Yeandle 74), Williams (Francis 47), Lees, Parling (Welch 64), Ewers, Salvi (Horstmann 61), Armand.

TRIES: Yeandle, Nowell
PENALTIES: Steenson 2

Referee: Wayne Barnes.
Attendance: 76,109

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BATH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Maro Itoje of  Saracens is tackled by Max Lahiff of Bath during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at the Recreation Ground on December 3, 2016 in Bath, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)