Exeter end Saracens' double hopes with last-minute winner

Exeter end Saracens' double hopes with last-minute winner
By Reuters

20/05/2017 at 16:56Updated 20/05/2017 at 16:58

May 20 (Reuters) - Exeter Chiefs came from behind to beat holders Saracens 18-16 in Saturday's first Premiership semi-final to end the European champions' hopes of completing a double-double after Sam Simmonds' last-minute try settled an exhilarating match.

Three-time league winners Saracens beat Clermont Auvergne to retain their European Champions Cup title on Saturday, and appeared to have booked a place in the Twickenham final when Mike Ellery scored a 75th-minute try at Sandy Park.

However, Simmonds settled the match at the death following a superb passage of play to set up a final date with either Wasps or Leicester Tigers who play later on Saturday.

London club Saracens showed no signs of fatigue after their continental exploits at the weekend and took a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes following two penalty goals by Owen Farrell.

However, the hosts responded before the break as two Gareth Steenson penalties levelled the scores following a spell of intense pressure from Chiefs.

Exeter, seeking a first title, picked up where they left off after halftime, with Jack Nowell scoring the first try of the match after picking up from a ruck, before Steenson converted to put them 13-6 ahead.

Saracens held their nerve to remain within touching distance despite the hosts' dominance and reduced the deficit in the 56th minute when Chris Wyles scored in the corner, although Farrell missed the conversion.

During a tense final 10 minutes, Saracens' characteristic composure deserted them as Chiefs remained resolute and looked set to see out victory until the visitors' Ellery barreled past Henry Slade after a magnificent pass from Schalk Brits.

But, after Farrell missed the conversion, the hosts produced a marvellous passage of play and Simmonds drove over from five metres out in the 79th minute as Exeter extended their unbeaten run in 2017 to 11 league games. (Reporting by Ed Dove; Editing by Ken Ferris)