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Preview: Aviva Premiership Final – Saracens v Exeter Chiefs.

Preview: Aviva Premiership Final – Saracens v Exeter Chiefs.

Don Armand believes Exeter Chiefs will channel the emotion of reaching their first Aviva Premiership Rugby final in a wholly positive way ahead of the tantalising clash with defending champions Saracens.

Exeter had not even reached the play-offs before lighting up Sandy Park with a semi-final victory over Wasps, sparking joyous scenes in the west country.

They are the tenth different club to participate in an Aviva Premiership Rugby final, although their previous Twickenham appearances have ended on low notes.

Their record reads played four, lost four, but at the time they were competing for minor trophies – and this is very much a team transformed under head coach Rob Baxter.

Flanker Armand has been one of the beneficiaries of his Chiefs revolution, earning an England Saxons call-up for his stellar efforts this year.

And though the squad cannot call upon the same kind of big-game experience Saracens have accrued in recent years – Mark McCall’s men added European silverware to their trophy cabinet two weeks ago – Armand insists Exeter need to trust in what has got them so far.

“We can’t let the occasion get the better of us,” he said. “It is the biggest game of my career and many of the boys; in fact all of them, but it is just another game in the simple form of things.

“We need to keep that in the back of our mind, to do the basics and do them well. You realise the graft the boys had to go through judging by their reactions at the end.

“I know there were some comments saying there being a lot of celebration for winning a semi-final but they missed the point – it was appreciating the work we had put in and Rob always pushes us to show our emotion. That’s exactly what we did.”

Saracens have been stunning so far in the business end of the season, winning their last nine matches in all tournaments since their 13-21 reversal to Leicester at Welford Road.

And the Londoners’ only defeat in their last six visits to Twickenham was in the 2014 Aviva Premiership Rugby Final to Northampton Saints.

But England full-back Alex Goode, a man very much in form, is not about to write off the Chiefs after admitting he has been an avid follower of their story thus far.

“Exeter have done superbly well, you can tell that they are superbly coached and the guys I know from the England camp is that they are a good bunch of guys,” said Goode.

“They work very hard, you can see that in the way that they play and they have really grown. They have got a lot
of young guys who have come through, a core group and a some experienced heads as well.

“They have got a brilliant mix and a very good side.

“I think that is the sign of any good club – if you can keep your good, young, promising players and get them into the first team as soon as possible and develop them, I think that is the key.

“Exeter come in for their first final and will be raring to go, they’ll be massively up for it and they are an intense side anyway, very physical, and they will come flying out of the blocks and won’t show any nerves in that sense.”

Twickenham Stadium, 3pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Wayne Barnes (170th Premiership game, 7th final).
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle & Luke Pearce. TMO: Sean Davey.

For more news, try out Exeter Chiefs Match Preview Press Saracens
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