Exeter do the double as they down Wasps in Premiership final

Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) –

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

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 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.

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

Exeter led 13-10 at the break after England centre Henry Slade scored a fine solo try before Wasps hit back with one of their own through Jacob Umaga.

An attritional second half saw Exeter's pack just do enough to give fly-half Simmonds the chances he needed, including a penalty with the last kick of the game that sealed victory.

- Double winners -

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

This final, delayed by several months as a result of the pandemic, came 56 weeks after the season began and only four weeks before the 2020/21 campaign starts.

In an attritional second half, Exeter's 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 Premiership consecutive 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 mean 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.

With conditions making running rugby difficult, Wasps took the lead with a Jimmy Gopperth penalty in the 12th minute.

- Slade strikes -

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 25 metres for a try under the posts.

Gopperth converted only for a Simmonds penalty to draw Exeter level at 10-10 as rain lashed down at Twickenham.

There was still time for Exeter to force a 29-metre penalty on the stroke of the interval that Simmonds kicked.