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Aviva Premiership Rugby Finals through the years

Aviva Premiership Rugby Finals through the years

On Saturday the 16th Premiership Rugby final will take place and the list of the 15 Twickenham showpieces encapsulates everything that is great about Aviva Premiership Rugby.

At least one of a group of just three clubs has been represented in every final since the play-off system was put in place in 2002: Saracens, Leicester Tigers and Wasps.

Wasps have made it to Twickenham on four occasions, Saracens five, but these impressive achievements are eclipsed by Leicester Tigers, who have competed in nine Premiership finals.

Of these nine, Leicester have won four – the most memorable of these wins perhaps coming when they defeated Saracens 33-27 to become back-to-back champions in 2010.

On that day, Tigers secured their third title in four years when Dan Hipkiss crossed the whitewash minutes before the whistle to snatch the lead and the trophy.

But the North London side got their revenge when the two teams returned to Twickenham a year later, as they beat Leicester by four points to win their first title.

The cool composure of a 19-year-old Owen Farrell made the difference for Saracens, as it would do so often in subsequent seasons, with the fly-half scoring 17 of his club’s 22 points.

Saracens would wait three years before they made it back to Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby finale, taking on Northampton Saints in 2014.

Twelve months before, Saints had scored tries through Stephen Myler, Ben Foden and Lee Dickson, but saw five penalties converted by Toby Flood and George Ford as Tigers ran out winners.

But Saints were back at Rugby HQ in 2014 with a point to prove and this determination edged them ahead of Saracens, who they beat 24-20.

Foden scored his second try in a Premiership final for Saints to put them ahead, but this was not enough to stop the showpiece going to extra-time for the first time.

The atmosphere inside Twickenham intensified as the sides prepared to play for 20 more minutes and Saracens looked to have the upper hand thanks to the boot of Charlie Hodgson.

All seemed lost for Northampton, until a last-gasp try from Alex Waller provoked an eruption of noise as they lifted the Premiership title for the first time.

Saracens bounced back with consecutive titles in 2015 and 2016. When Bath faced them in 2015, it was their first final for 11 years.

Three first-half tries from Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Chris Wyles gave the 2011 champions a 25-3 lead and, though Jonathan Joseph replied for Bath, it was not enough.

Then, Mark McCall’s men made it to the top of the English game once more, this time facing Exeter Chiefs, in a repeat of this year’s final.

Saracens had become champions of Europe two weeks before and after dominating the first half – with tries from Duncan Taylor and Chris Wyles – they stifled a Chiefs comeback to win 28-20.

The Exeter Chiefs didn’t have to wait long for their moment at Twickenham however, as 12 months later they were back and this time made sure they lifted the title.

Their success wasn’t without drama though as Gareth Steenson kicked a last-minute penalty to send the sides into extra-time at 20-20 before kicking the winner with just three minutes left on the clock.

Wasps were the team to beat when the Premiership Rugby final first came into being back in 2003 as they won each of the first three finals.

The first of these was in 2003, when Wasps dominated Gloucester Rugby 39-3 but the 2004 final was a lower-scoring affair, with Stuart Abbott scoring the only try to give Wasps a 10-6 victory over Bath.

Wasps completed the hat-trick in 2005 when they defeated Leicester 39-14, 26 of these points were scored by Mark van Gisbergen, in Martin Johnson and Neil Back’s last game.

But Leicester were back at Twickenham in 2006 for the second in what would later become a string of nine consecutive Premiership finals and this time they lost 45-20 to Sale Sharks, the first time to win the title having also topped the league table.

Jump forward to 2009, when Tigers took part in a much tighter affair with London Irish – a second-half try from Jordan Crane brought a 10-9 win.

Tigers first found finals success in 2007, in another bruising defeat for Gloucester at Twickenham as Leicester dotted down on no fewer than seven occasions.

The Tigers legacy was halted the following year, though, with their opponents Wasps desperate to claim one more title for stalwart Lawrence Dallaglio before he retired after 18 years at the club.

Dallaglio and Wasps are two of the many to leave their mark, but countless others will undoubtedly enter the history books for the part they will play in claiming the Aviva Premiership Rugby trophy.

2017: Exeter Chiefs 23-20 Wasps

2016: Saracens 28-20 Exeter Chiefs

2015: Saracens 28-16 Bath Rugby

2014: Northampton Saints 24-20 Saracens

2013: Leicester Tigers 37-17 Northampton Saints

2012: Harlequins 30-23 Leicester Tigers

2011: Saracens 22-18 Leicester Tigers

2010: Leicester Tigers 33-27 Saracens

2009: Leicester Tigers 10-9 London Irish

2008: Wasps 26-16 Leicester Tigers

2007: Leicester Tigers 44-16 Gloucester Rugby

2006: Sale Sharks 45-20 Leicester Tigers

2005: Wasps 39-14 Leicester Tigers

2004: Wasps 10-6 Bath Rugby

2003: Wasps 39-3 Gloucester

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