Exeter Chiefs 42-12 Northampton Saints
Rob Baxter’s Exeter Chiefs scored six tries as they saw off Northampton Saints at Sandy Park to book their place in the Premiership final and will meet Saracens at Twickenham for the second straight year.
Tries by Harry Williams, Joe Simmonds, Dave Dennis, Tom O’Flaherty, Sam Simmonds and Jonny Hill capped a brilliant performance from the Chiefs.
Exeter opened the scoring on 16 minutes through prop Harry Williams, as he finished brilliantly by rolling through a tackle and diving over the line for a converted try.
Their lead was doubled just six minutes later as Joe Simmonds beat three Saints defenders with a dummy pass and pace, he then converted his own try.
The Chiefs then scored two second half quickfire scores, the first from Dennis was scored from close range diving over the line. The second by O’Flaherty was a direct contrast to the previous score as the winger raced through the Saints back three from the halfway line to score a spectacular converted try.
Sam Simmonds scored with 10 minutes to play with a powerful finish from close range for a converted try.
The win was then sealed in the closing play of the game when Hill went over for a converted try, using immense and relentless power that symbolises the dangerousness of Exeter’s attack.
It looked as if the Saints were within a chance of causing an upset, when the momentum was in their hands just before half time.
After going 14 points down after 22 minutes, Northampton got back into the game on 22 minutes as they scored a penalty try.
Tom O’Flaherty was shown a yellow card after going in at the side when Saints hooker James Fish was set to score.
Saints then took full advantage of the extra man as they scored another try, this time by Ahsee Tuala who was picked out in the corner by unbelievable hands by Rory Hutchinson who used the back of his hands to give the ball to the Samoan full back for an unconverted score.
Saints should have gone into the half time break ahead. Dan Biggar’s drop goal attempt sailed wide and star man Cobus Reinach will be kicking himself, after dropping an easy pass and the South African nine who was through, definitely would have scored if he managed to hold on to the ball.
A huge key to the Chiefs win was keeping Reinach’s involvement on proceedings to a bare minimum, as he made no usual dangerous line breaks and surprisingly never threatened the home side’s defence.
The Saints couldn’t deal with the Chiefs brutal power upfront and Saracens will have to be ready for a dogfight at Twickenham as the breakdown will be a vital part in who takes home the trophy.
Matt Kvesic was outstanding throughout, creating turnovers and scrummaging brilliantly. Saracens will need to find a way to stop him next Saturday.
Man of the match Kvesic said: ‘We’ve worked really hard all year to get a home semi-final and today wasn’t our best game and the score line probably flatters us but we’re really looking forward to the final.
‘It seemed like deja vu going into half time but Joe Simmonds just said stick to the basics and do what we do well and play in the right areas and we did that and got a few more tries which is nice.
‘We played a bit within ourselves last year and we know there a good and physical side and we’ll just go out there and put on as good a performance as possible and hopefully that’ll be enough.
‘The atmosphere today was brilliant and today’s performance was owed to the fans.’
Written by Ben Jaycock