Exeter do the double as they down Wasps in Premiership final

Julian Guyer
·3-min read

Exeter completed an English and European double on Saturday as they beat Wasps 19-13 in a tense Premiership final at a rainswept Twickenham.

Victory made Exeter just the fourth English club to win both the Premiership and European titles in the same season following their thrilling 31-27 victory over France's Racing 92 in last week's Champions Cup final in Bristol.

Exeter were 16-13 up with five minutes left in this behind closed doors clash when Wasps opted for an attacking line-out rather than kick an equalising penalty only for the Chiefs' Scotland lock Jonny Gray to steal their ball.

Both Exeter and Wasps, who were without several first-choice players due to the coronavirus, scored a try apiece with England centre Henry Slade's effort for the champion Chiefs countered by Jacob Umaga.

But a faultless kicking display by Exeter captain Joe Simmonds, who landed four penalties and a conversion, proved decisive.

Exeter, 13-10 ahead at half-time, saw their pack just do enough after the interval to give fly-half Simmonds the chances he needed, including a penalty with the last kick of the game that sealed victory.

"It feels so good," man-of-the-match Slade told BT Sport.

"In recent years we've had a bit of heartache in finals but to get this last couple of weeks tied up and for it to go as well as it has is such a good feeling."

Meanwhile dejected Wasps veteran centre Jimmy Gopperth said: "It's pretty devastating to come so close again. It's obviously horrendous conditions, and I thought we played well but obviously came up a little bit short."

- Double winners -

Exeter, only promoted to the Premiership 10 years ago, joined Leicester, Wasps and Saracens as English double winners.

Their pack just did enough to give fly-half Simmonds the chances he needed, including a penalty with the last kick of the game that sealed victory.

This was Exeter's fifth consecutive Premiership final. The Chiefs beat Wasps in extra-time in 2017 but suffered three losses to Saracens, relegated this season for salary-cap breaches.

Wasps, bidding for their seventh title but first since 2008, had finished runners-up to Exeter in the regular season following a storming run of 12 wins in 13 matches as director of rugby Lee Blackett oversaw a spectacular revival after replacing Dai Young.

But a rash of positive Covid-19 tests meant they were without No 8 Brad Shields, props Kieran Brookes and Simon McIntyre and utility forward Alfie Barbeary due to contact tracing.

They were also missing injured New Zealand centre Malakai Fekitoa.

Wasps took the lead with a Gopperth penalty in the 12th minute.

But Slade scored an 18th-minute try, slicing through the defence from 25 metres out.

Wasps hit back on the half-hour through fly-half Umaga, with the nephew of New Zealand star Tana Umaga stepping off his right foot and beating three defenders from a similar distance for a try under the posts.

Gopperth converted only for Exeter to hit back before the break with two Simmonds penalties.