Throwback Thursday: Spencer kicks Saracens to cup success
The boot of Ben Spencer provided the first champagne moment of a memorable 2014-15 campaign for Saracens when his last-minute penalty hoisted Mark McCall’s men to Anglo-Welsh Cup glory.
A stirring encounter at Franklin’s Gardens, in what would be the last Anglo-Welsh Cup final before a one-season hiatus brought about by the 2015 Rugby World Cup, saw Saracens claim a dramatic 23-20 victory over Exeter Chiefs.
They became the ninth different side to lift the trophy since it became the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2006.
The north Londoners would go on to become Aviva Premiership Rugby champions for a second time later that season but Spencer’s last-gasp heroics ensured that their first silverware of a superb season was signed, sealed and delivered in March 2015.
Long before he would go on to be crowned European Player of the Year, Maro Itoje captained Saracens in their first Anglo-Welsh Cup final since the 1997-98 season when the competition was in its previous format.
Itoje’s fellow England international George Kruis was also included as a Saracens replacement while Sale Sharks’ Byron McGuigan, who is due to start on the wing in Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Wales this weekend, was on the bench for Exeter.
A nip and tuck first period ended with the Chiefs 6-3 to the good, Ceri Sweeney’s two penalties cancelling out one from Spencer, but then Saracens took full control.
The floodgates opened in the 45th minute when David Strettle, who returns to Saracens next season, picked off a loose, floated pass from Ben White before streaking away to dot down.
Wing Strettle was celebrating a brace shortly afterwards as he collected Spencer’s chip into the air to score, and then Nick de Jager bundled his way over, Spencer converting, to make it 20-6.
The pendulum then swung back Exeter’s way and in the space of eight minutes, the scores were level.
It’s make 🏆 or break 💥 this weekend in the #AngloWelshCup 👊
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 1, 2018
Two converted tries from the jet-heeled Max Bodilly, both daring darts over the line confirmed by the TMO, tied things up in dramatic fashion.
But, in the final minute of play, the Chiefs’ Greg Bateman was penalised for coming in from the side and Spencer bisected the posts and kick off the celebrations.
Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer said: “We’re a very, very tight knit group. During those last 10 minutes, we were fighting for everything.
“In those last few minutes, to put pressure on Exeter like that from the lineout and then to get that penalty at the end was just brilliant.”