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Last-gasp Chiefs end Saracens' double-double hopes

By Tom Webber
Getty Images

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Exeter Chiefs ended Saracens’ double-double hopes on Saturday, with Sam Simmonds’ last-minute try securing a dramatic 18-16 semi-final victory over the Premiership champions at Sandy Park.

Having successfully defended the European Champions Cup last weekend, Sarries’ domestic defence was ended by last season’s runners-up, when Simmonds put down from a driving maul in the 79th minute.

Mark McCall’s side fell behind early in the second half but looked set to advance to the showpiece when replacement Mike Ellery acrobatically crossed with five minutes remaining, but it ultimately proved insufficient.

It will not be a match the departing Chris Ashton looks back on fondly – what ended up being the wing’s final game before leaving for Toulon lasting just 11 minutes due to injury.

Mike Rhodes also had to be replaced in the early exchanges, but a pair of Owen Farrell penalties gave the visitors a six-point cushion.

Momentum swung Exeter’s way and Gareth Steenson restored parity before Sarries spilled at the restart and Jack Nowell burrowed across after a sweeping move from left to right.

Chris Wyles – starting due to Sean Maitland’s injury-enforced absence – went over in the corner but Farrell was unable to add the extras to leave the difference at two points.

Ellery, who replaced Ashton in the first half, flew over the top of Henry Slade to give Sarries a late lead and put them on the brink of a fourth straight final.

However, Slade atoned with a monstrous kick into touch that secured the lineout from which Simmonds drove in for the decisive score, booking a trip to Twickenham next weekend.

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