European Champions Cup: Exeter beat Racing 92 31-27 to elevate first Champions Cup title
|Exeter (21) 31|
|Tries: Cowan-Dickie, S Simmonds, Williams, Slade Cons: J Simmonds 4 Pen: J Simmonds|
|Racing 92 (12) 27|
|Tries: Zebo 2, Imhoff, Chat Cons: Russell, Machenaud Pen: Machenaud|
Exeter Chiefs had simply sufficient to maintain Racing 92 at bay and clinch their first Champions Cup title in an exciting ultimate at Ashton Gate.
Luke-Cowan Dickie, Sam Simmonds and Harry Williams barged over to provide Exeter a nine-point lead on the break.
However Racing roared again with Simon Zebo’s second attempt to Camille Chat’s surge bringing them inside a degree.
Exeter, right down to 14 males after Tomas Francis’ late yellow card, held out heroically to elevate the title.
A breathless ultimate 10 minutes featured Racing turning down the drop-goal alternative as they went by means of the phases inside 5 metres of the road, Exeter alternative Sam Hidalgo-Clyne securing a turnover beneath the shadow of his personal posts and captain Joe Simmonds touchdown a penalty with the final act of the match.
Even then the drama was not over.
The match clock initially confirmed that three seconds remained for Racing to restart and mount a ultimate assault. Nonetheless, after consulting along with his staff officers, referee Nigel Owens confirmed that the clock had not restarted when Simmonds was lining up his penalty and that he might blow up, sparking delirious celebrations.
The victory marks the fruits of a outstanding decade for Exeter, who gained promotion to the Premiership for the primary time again in 2010 in a play-off match throughout Bristol on the metropolis‘s Memorial Stadium.
Rob Baxter’s aspect will try to finish a double subsequent weekend after they tackle Wasps within the Premiership ultimate.
Types make matches
The conflict of kinds was clear as quickly because the groups emerged right into a coronavirus-enforced empty Ashton Gate.
Racing 92 trotted onto the pitch carrying pink bow-ties, in a nod to the Parisians’ fast-living free-running previous.
Exeter marched out in business-like vogue, grim-faced and ahead trying, by means of a gauntlet of their replacements and backroom workers.
Racing introduced bursts of color and panache, however the Chiefs’ mastery of close-range trench warfare finally stored them one step forward all through an exciting contest.
Racing scrum-half Teddy Iribaren had the prospect to provide his aspect an early platform. As an alternative he screwed a penalty lifeless as he aimed for the nook and 5 minutes later Cowan-Dickie compelled his approach by means of the center of a pushed maul for the primary strive.
Iribaren’s eccentricities continued as he handed blind to place Juan Imhoff beneath strain earlier than Russell juggled in his personal in-goal space. Racing put themselves beneath strain and Exeter gleefully pressed them past breaking level.
Sam Simmonds barged by means of reverse quantity Antonie Claassen on the finish of a sequence of short-range bursts from his fellow forwards.
Fourteen factors forward with solely 16 minutes gone, Exeter chairman Tony Rowe seemed like he was struggling to maintain his enjoyment of examine within the stands.
However Racing refused to go quietly.
Russell’s cut-out move tempted Tom O’Flaherty out of place and opened a path to the nook for Zebo earlier than Imhoff ghosted by means of the perimeter defence to chop the hole to 2 factors.
Harry Williams crossed on the stroke of half-time for Chiefs however Zebo, out of contract subsequent summer time, confirmed his high quality with one other highly effective end to maintain the French aspect inside a rating early within the second half.
In the end although, Racing’s errors undermined their brilliance.
Two minutes after Zebo’s second, with the momentum with the French aspect, Scotland fly-half Russell threw a looping mis-pass simply outdoors his personal 22m. It might have sprung a counter-attack. As an alternative it was picked off by an alert Jack Nowell who put Henry Slade beneath the posts.
That rating moved Exeter to twenty-eight factors, a complete Racing might by no means overhaul regardless of Chat’s bulldozing attempt to their late strain.
Russell’s percentages come up quick
British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland was one of many handful of spectators in attendance on the behind-closed-doors ultimate.
The efficiency of Russell can have given him a lot to ponder.
The Scotland fly-half’s good chip created a dramatic late rating that undid defending champions Saracens within the semi-final and there have been moments of imaginative and prescient and precision towards Exeter.
Nonetheless, his high-risk, high-reward sport means pricey errors are additionally inevitable. Even earlier than his move was intercepted for Slade’s strive, his juggle behind his personal line had virtually gifted Exeter a rating within the first half.
Will Gatland really feel he can afford that trade-off within the white warmth of a Take a look at sequence towards world champions South Africa subsequent summer time?
Man of the match – Jonny Hill
Response – ‘the very best staff in Europe by far’
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson on BBC Radio 5 Dwell: “It is an incredible achievement for Exeter. There cannot have been one other profitable staff which have solely been within the prime flight of their league for 10 years. They usually deserve it as a result of they’ve been the very best staff in Europe by far.
“I do not suppose I’ve seen a ultimate like that – they are typically extra cagey. When a staff goes as far forward as Exeter did you suppose this can be a one-way present, however it was Exeter who had been hanging on on the finish.
“Sport does some unusual issues to your feelings and there was huge pressure and drama even in an empty stadium.”
Former England centre Jeremy Guscott: “Effectively performed Racing for coming again into the match however the distinction was that Exeter are a staff whereas Racing have people. Exeter completed the match with 14 gamers on the sphere however backed themselves in a defensive place and have gained it collectively.”
Exeter: Hogg; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Grey, Hill, Ewers, Vermeulen, S Simmonds.
Replacements: Moon for Hepburn (56), Yeandle for Cowan-Dickie (56), Francis for Williams (56), Kirsten for Vermeulen (56), Skinner for Grey (59), Devoto for Whitten (59), Hidalgo-Clyne for Maunder (65)
Not Used: Steenson.
Racing 92: Zebo; Dupichot, Vakatawa, Chavancy (capt), Imhoff; Russell, Iribaren; Ben Arous, Chat, Colombe, Le Roux, Chicken, Lauret, Sanconnie, Claassen.
Replacements: Machenaud for Iribaren (41), Kolingar for Ben Arous (51), Baubigny for Chat (51), Oz for Colombe (51), Beale for Zebo (65), Klemenczak for Vakatawa (76), Palu for Claassen (76).
Not Used: Ryan.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)