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Big Match Preview: The Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final

Big Match Preview: The Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final

It’s that time of the season once again – 134 matches down, just one remains: the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final.

After a blockbuster weekend of semi-final action, it will be Saracens and Exeter Chiefs who once again battle it out in the showpiece, ready to write another chapter in the enthralling rivalry that has developed between the two sides in recent years. 

Saturday’s clash will be the third time the two outfits have faced off at Twickenham for the ultimate prize, and while there’s no doubt that the pair have become particularly well acquainted recently, there’s no telling how this year’s final will turn out.

Click here for tickets to the biggest game of the season – the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final on 1 June. Tickets from £35 for adults and £15 for juniors

What’s at stake?

A place in history; a chance to add your name to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby trophy, alongside so many great sides of yesteryear.

The culmination of a gruelling season of hard work, each side will have to conjure up one final push for glory when it matters most.

For Saracens, the title would be their fifth – all won since 2011 – and their second on the spin.

It would also cap off a nigh-on perfect season for the Londoners, with the Champions Cup, Premiership Rugby Shield and Premiership Rugby 7s titles already safe in the cabinet.

While for the Chiefs – table-toppers in the regular season standings – it would be a second title, truly enshrining Rob Baxter’s epoch as one of English rugby’s best.

Form so far?

Close to peerless, on both accounts.

Exeter won 17 of their 22 league games this season, just one more than Saracens, with their 86 total points the second-highest total that has ever been seen.

In fact, that mark was made by Saracens themselves, when they claimed 87 points back in 2013/14, and while this season they fell shy of that mark with 78, it was a campaign that nevertheless contained some scintillating stuff from the Londoners.

It was a case of more of the same in their respective semi-finals, each side showing their ruthless pedigree on the big stage as the Chiefs toppled Northampton Saints after Saracens downed Gloucester.

Last meeting?

It’s one win apiece for each outfit across their two clashes so far this season.

The Chiefs stunned Saracens at Sandy Park in a Christmas cracker, running in a quartet of scores to run out 31-13 winners over their rivals: statement made.

But the reigning Gallagher Premiership Rugby champions weren’t to be outdone, as they toppled the Chiefs 38-7 in the return fixture at Allianz Park.

What will worry Exeter more, however, is their record against Mark McCall’s men over their last two finals: Saracens have played two, won two.

In 2016, the Chiefs ran them close in a 28-20 defeat, while last year a Chris Wyles double helped Saracens to a comprehensive 27-10 triumph – a result Exeter will do well to put to the back of their minds come Saturday.

Key players

These are two squads replete with class, with internationals, with matchwinners.

In reality, you could pick any number from their ranks – each possess bounteous faces who can turn a game on a sixpence, on either side of the ball.

Judging by the semi-finals, however, perhaps the back row is the place to look.

For Saracens, Maro Itoje shone throughout, barking orders at his teammates and leading from the front with his play – he will be a tough man to stop on Saturday.

That buck will likely stop with Dave Ewers, who himself is in fine fettle after a man-of-the-match performance in the win over Saints.

Joining him across the back is Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Season nominee Matt Kvesic, another fearsome competitor whose displays across the campaign have been standout.

But while this could be a key proving ground with regards to who lifts the trophy this weekend, anyone could realistically be the hero this year at Twickenham.

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