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Exeter’s Gareth Steenson gives final warning: ‘We will go in hard’ | Sport


Exeter believe they have what it takes to become champions after coming from behind to defeat the European Cup holders, Saracens with a last-minute try before a record crowd at Sandy Park.

The try by their replacement No8 Sam Simmonds from a driving maul, after Henry Slade’s 60-metre kick to touch had set up the lineout, took Exeter to their second consecutive final and was Saracens’ first defeat in nine knock-out matches since losing to Clermont Auvergne in the 2015 Champions Cup semi-final.

“It was a heck of a shot by Henry,” said the Exeter fly-half, Gareth Steenson (above). “We told him to go for it because it had to be in a certain range to give us a chance of scoring. He showed his class and it is up there in terms of great kicks.

“We are in a much different place compared to last year. We have talked very much about being champions this year. Maybe we were just happy last year to be in the final. A lot of people say you have to go through finals and lose them to put yourself in a good position.

“This squad has moved on and we are very much driving ourselves to go and win the thing. There is no point in being in a final and not winning it. We will get ready to go hard on Saturday.”

Saracens had contested the previous three Premiership finals but their exertions in the Champions Cup final last week appeared to have caught up with them until, in typical fashion, they came from behind with a try five minutes from time which appeared to have plucked victory from defeat.

“I am proud by the way we played in the second half because in the first we were hanging on a bit and looked tired,” said the Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall. “A lot of teams would have fallen away but we kept fighting and scrapping and found a way to stay in the contest.

“Then came one of the great kicks of all time from Henry Slade. Well done to Exeter and their tremendous achievement of reaching the final in successive seasons. We did not do much wrong and can hold our heads up high in terms of the season we have had.”



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