Warren Gatland will have been punching the air in delight when the final whistle went at Sandy Park yesterday. I don’t expect he’s especially a fan of the Chiefs (although many are!), but the result meant that 6 of his Lions squad – those wearing the red shirts of Saracens – would have next weekend off and be able to meet up with some of his other Lions earlier than expected. I imagine he felt the same level of chuffedness when Leinster unexpectedly lost on Friday.
Jack Nowell won’t be with Lions until after next weekend as he will be jogging out at Twickenham to face Wasps in the final.
His performance will have been noted by Gatland – yesterday Jack was like a restless itinerant as he raced all over the park looking for work and ignoring Saracen’s fearsome reputation. He’s hard to stop with the ball in hand and equally strong in defence.
The Chiefs put huge pressure on Saracens who, despite having to play so soon after the Champions Cup final were never going to give up their Premiership crown easily.
Saracens, for long behind on the scoreboard conjured up a spectacular try to give them the lead and seemingly a trip back to Twickenham.
The clock was ticking down ominously for Exeter when they were awarded a penalty some 63 yards out. It gave the Chiefs one final opportunity to grab the Twickenham journey for themselves.
Up stepped Henry Slade with a miracle 60 yard kick to put them within spitting distance of glory.
Even with Thomas the Tank off the pitch no one – not even the European champions could deny Rob Baxter’s side
An 18-16 score line sent the Sandy Park crowd into wild celebrations.
Quite right too!
The Chiefs are going into their second successive final and Wasps won’t be taking them lightly.
I called the game wrong but am in no way disappointed that the Chiefs triumphed or that 6 players will get a well earned rest before they set off to NZ.
2 exceptional semis with a combined points difference of just 3 – you can’t get closer than that – well you can obviously, but you probably know what I mean!