Throwback Thursday: Seismic Saracens versus Exeter Chiefs clashes
Something has to give on Saturday as two superpowered giants of English rugby meet at Twickenham in a mouth-watering Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final.
In a repeat of last year’s season climax Exeter Chiefs will meet Saracens with plenty of questions in the air – can European champions Saracens be stopped? Can the Chiefs avenge their defeat from this stage last year?
Clashes in the closing stages of the season are of course common for two incredible teams who have come face-to-face for the past three years – once in the semi-final and twice in the end-of-season finale.
As we gear up for a Super Saturday, we’re taking a look back at each.
Saracens 28-20 Exeter Chiefs
28 May 2016
The 2016 Premiership Rugby Final, Exeter’s first appearance in the showpiece event, saw the Chiefs stage a miraculous comeback from 23-6 down at half-time, almost pulling off the impossible.
At Twickenham Saracens had gone ahead through centre Duncan Taylor, Chris Wyles and three penalties from Owen Farrell.
Rob Baxter’s decision to change his front row in the 50th minute sparked Exeter into action and they reduced the deficit to 23-20 after Jack Nowell scrambled over with eight minutes left on the clock, following Jack Yeandle’s score.
However, Saracens hit back when Premiership Rugby Player of the Season Alex Goode dotted down his side’s third try to break Exeter’s hearts, just five minutes from time.
The 28-20 victory for Saracens sealed back-to-back league crowns for the first time since Leicester Tigers achieved the feat in 2010.
Exeter Chiefs 18-16 Saracens
20 May 2017
Exeter were looking for revenge the following year when they hosted Saracens at Sandy Park in the 2017 semi-finals.
In an absorbing and end-to-end first-half, the scores were level as Owen Farrell and Gareth Steenson had successfully kicked two penalties each – an arm-wrestle of wills.
Jack Nowell scored the first try of the encounter just after the break with Steenson adding the conversion, but Saracens hit back through American wing Chris Wyles.
Mike Ellery’s try looked to have sealed the clash for Saracens five minutes from time, but Exeter were in no mood to relent and forced their way back upfield in large thanks to a howitzer of a boot from Henry Slade, now a part of Chiefs folklore.
Sam Simmonds, then making a huge name for himself with his end-of-season impact, went over in the dying seconds to secure Chiefs a stunning 18-16 victory on the way to winning their first title.
Exeter Chiefs 10-27 Saracens
26 May 2018
The third finals meeting of the two sides saw a repeat of the 2016 showpiece last year, with Baxter’s men looking to retain their title at Twickenham.
Exeter’s first points came on the board early through a Joe Simmonds penalty but a score from Billy Vunipola and two tries from United States international Wyles, in his last game before retirement, put Saracens in pole position.
Steenson scored and converted his own try to give the Chiefs hope but Nathan Earle scored Saracen’s fourth of the afternoon as the London side claimed a 27-10 victory to secure their third league crown in four seasons.
Despite Exeter finishing eight points clear of second-placed Saracens in the regular season and dominating their opponents in the opening ten minutes, Mark McCall’s side called on their big-game experience to pull through and win their fourth Premiership Rugby crown.