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Saracens and Exeter name teams

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Saracens and Exeter Chiefs name teams for Gallagher Premiership final

Saracens have named an unchanged starting XV for the Gallagher Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs. It means captain Brad Barritt will begin the showpiece at Twickenham. The 32-year-old has recovered from the hamstring injury which forced him off in Sarries’ semi-final victory over Gloucester.

Seventeen of the 23 featured in last year’s final. Richard Barrington, Will Skelton and Ben Spencer start this time around while Liam Williams slots in on the wing having missed the triumph through injury.

Spencer and Williams both crossed for the Men in Black in last weekend’s win with winger Sean Maitland, selected on the left once more, also dotting down. The other three tries were scored by the latest club centurion Nick Tompkins who will look to make a similar impact from the bench.

Tom Woolstencroft joins the centre there in the only amendment to the matchday squad meaning prop Ralph Adams-Hale – one of 10 Academy products picked – will cap off a remarkable personal season with an appearance at Twickenahm. Fellow front rower Christian Judge will make his last outing as Saracens player as will club legend David Strettle.

Director of rugby Mark McCall said: “We’re hugely grateful to the staff and entire playing group for their commitment throughout the campaign to get us in this position. Everyone has contributed hugely to get us to where we want to be.”

Saracens Team:

15 Alex Goode
14 Liam Williams
13 Alex Lozowski
12 Brad Barritt ©
11 Sean Maitland
10 Owen Farrell
9 Ben Spencer

1 Richard Barrington
2 Jamie George
3 Vincent Koch
4 Will Skelton
5 George Kruis
6 Maro Itoje
7 Jackson Wray
8 Billy Vunipola

16 Tom Woolstencroft
17 Ralph Adams-Hale
18 Christian Judge
19 Nick Isiekwe
20 Mike Rhodes
21 Richard Wigglesworth
22 Nick Tompkins
23 David Strettle

In a week when Rob Baxter himself has come out fighting at claims his Exeter side are ‘one-dimensional and boring’, the Chiefs Director of Rugby is hoping his players have the same combative tendencies when they run out at Twickenham

It is a fourth successive Premiership final for Exeter, having dispatched Northampton Saints 42-12 in last weekend’s semi-final at Sandy Park and they’ve named the same 23-man squad for his weekend’s clash with Sarries.

Having toppled a full-strength Sarries outfit at Sandy Park back in December, it was the Londoners who won the corresponding fixture at the start of May when both teams opted to rest key personnel.

On both occasions, the Chiefs opted for the tactics of trying to rumble their way over from kicks to the corner, rather than shots at goal. It’s a philosophy that has served the Devonians well in recent times, but according to their leader it’s not a tactic that they always have to go for.

“As a philosophy, we leave it to the players to decide, which is what we do now, so it’s no different,” added Baxter. “We won the final by kicking penalties come the death, so it’s not like we are adverse to doing it, or can’t do it. It’s how you build a performance you want over 80 minutes.

“The Christmas performance when we beat Saracens – I don’t mind telling you want we did – we went to the corner. We didn’t score from the first time we went there, we actually got turned over, but we scored from their lineout.

“There’s more than one way to create pressure by deciding if you go to the corner or the posts. A couple of years ago, Gareth Steenson knocked eight penalty goals over. He felt it was the right thing to do at the time and I think we knocked over 21 or 24 points worth of penalties, so we are capable of doing it.

“What I want the guys to do is to do what they feels gets them on the front foot and gets them most control in the game. “

As expected, Baxter sticks with an unchanged match-day 23 from that which won last weekend’s semi-final against Northampton.

“We’ve been able to pick this week from our strongest group of players that we’ve had all season, which is fantastic,” he said. “It’s great to see Sam Simmonds and Sam Skinner get more game time after being out for a long period.

“That creates a really decent group of back five forwards which we will need over the 80 minutes and then I think we are aware that we have two good front rows and we need to make sure we utilise the work out of them over the 80 minutes.

“I think we have it in us, but we are going to have to be good because at the end of the day, it’s like an all-international clash, isn’t it? That’s what it comes down to and if it was England v Wales, we’d be saying the same thing. It comes down to the guys that lock it down on the day and get it right.”

Exeter Team:
15 Jack Nowell
14 Alex Cuthbert
13 Henry Slade
12 Ollie Devoto
11 Tom O’Flaherty
10 Joe Simmonds
9 Nic White

1 Ben Moon
2 Jack Yeandle (capt)
3 Harry Williams
4 Dave Dennis
5 Jonny Hill
6 Dave Ewers
7 Don Armand
8 Matt Kvesic

16 Luke Cowan-Dickie
17 Alec Hepburn
18 Tomas Francis
19 Sam Skinner
20 Sam Simmonds
21 Jack Maunder
22 Gareth Steenson
23 Sam Hill

WATCH: The new episode of Don’t Mess with Jim sees former Saracens player Hamilton preview the Gallagher Premiership final

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Saracens and Exeter Chiefs name teams for Gallagher Premiership final