Exeter Chiefs took on Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens this weekend in the LV= Cup Final, and despite a resurgence in the second half, last year’s title winners were unable to overturn the London based Club.
Scrumhalf Ben Spencer opened the scoring for Saracens with a penalty, which was cancelled out by a Ceri Sweeney kick from the tee shortly after.
A disallowed try for Chiefs hooker Elvis Taione ensured that all of the first half points came from the two placekickers, but two missed attempts from Sweeney meant that Exeter only took the slightest of margins into the break, 3-6 being the half-time score.
Saracens began the second instalment with a newfound aggression. Quick line speed in defence saw England winger David Strettle pick a lofted pass from Chiefs flanker Ben White out of the air, and race untouched into the corner for the game’s first try. The conversion was missed, but Exeter now trailed 8-6.
Soon after, some quick thinking from Spencer saw him loft a perfectly weighted chip toward the same left hand corner and Strettle expertly gathered and grounded for his second try of the match. The conversion drifted wide of the uprights leaving the Chiefs 13-6 behind but within a single score of drawing the game level.
At this stage Saracens were entirely dominant. More impressive play from Spencer resulted in Nick De Jager crossing for the third try, and along with the successful conversion the gap for Exeter to bridge now opened up to 14 points, with time not on the defending champions side.
Some admirable passion and integrity saw Chiefs reply with two tries of their own through fullback Max Bodilly. Replacement fly-half Gareth Steenson converted both and with only 30 seconds remaining on the clock the scores were level at 20-20.
Play was around thirty metres from Exeter’s line, and replacement Greg Bateman allowed his hot-headed eagerness to get the better of him as he entered a ruck illegally from the side. The act didn’t go unnoticed and Spencer stepped up to slot the resulting penalty.
Heartbreak for Exeter and jubilation for Saracens after a thrilling LV Cup Final ends 20-23.