Wasps made the 1 hour 45 minute trip up to Twickenham while the Chiefs made the lengthy 3 hour journey to ‘the cabbage patch’. However, hours of travelling failed to dampen the supporters spirit with both sets of fans chomping at the bit awaiting the first whistle. As for the players, all 46 of them had endured a gruelling game last time around with both teams having won their games in the dieing minutes. It was set to be a cracker (like most finals) with niether team having won the competition in recent years.
Joe Launchbury and Gareth Steenson led their respective teams out onto the pitch and aligned them, preparing to take part in a minutes silence for all the victims of the atrocious Manchester attacks on Monday.
Exeter got the first try and it was non other than their talisman Jack Nowell. Luke Cowan Dickie played a nice pass on the inside the onrushing England winger who hit a gap and accelerated past Josh Bassett and scored. Steenson’s converted but Gopperth notched a penalty to make the score 7-3 to Exeter.
However, Exeter hit back when Ollie Devoto used his pace and power to make a half break but was able to find a good offload out the back to Phil Dollman who drove his way to the line! Steenson converted again which put Wasps under alot of pressure; they needed the next score.
It was beginning to look a tough ask for Wasps as the clock turn red for halftime. They were not at the races but they did get a glimmer of hope courtesy of Jimmy Gopperth. Dan Robson found Danny Cipriani who in turn played an inside pass to Tommy Taylor. The hooker tumbled to the floor but manage to pop the ball up to find Robson again who got it away to Gopperth who scampered in! It was a great try and which was duly converted by the scorer
HALF TIME WASPS 10 – 14 EXETER CHIEFS
Wasps needed a big second half and they started off with a glimpse of magic stroke luck. Phil Dollman was down injured in the twenty two and when Christian Wade made a break, the Chiefs had a travesty on their hands! Gareth Steenson got back and covered Wade but when the winger chipped over the top, Ollie Woodburn was forced to track back. The Exeter player was fooled by the bounce of the ball and the beneficery was Elliot Daly who was leading the chase. The ball spun over Woodburn’s head and into the England players arms and he ran in for the try! Jimmy Gopperth converted the try and exchanged penalties with Steenson to bring the score to 20-17 with 2 minutes left.
Exeter were a constant threat and would not give up the battle. Nathan Hughes attacked a ruck but came off his feet and Exeter were awarded the penalty to take the game to extra time. Gareth Steenson stepped up and disected the posts and the scores were levelled at 20 all after the 80 minutes… and we had extra time!
FULL TIME WASPS 20 – 20 EXETER CHIEFS
The first half of extra time was coming to a closing before the first opportunity really came. Last weeks match winner for the Chiefs, Sam Simmonds, clattered over again after 30 phases. JP Doyle tryed to get a clear view but had to call for the TMO. It seemed impossible to see but on a zoomed in camera angle, there was a hand underneath the ball and that had saved Wasps!
In extra time, Exeter had been the dominant team. Wasps defensive efforts had been heroic but their wall finally fell from a scrum. The Chiefs pack bulldozed the Wasps efforts back and earnt the penalty. All the pressure was on the right boot of Gareth Steenson and the fly half failed to disappoint. He slammed the ball between the uprights and it looked as if Exeter had secured the win.
Wasps hammered away but could not get any ball to work with and it was Exeter Chiefs, just 5 years after their first ever Premiership game, who were champions for the first time in their history!