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Saracens became Anglo Welsh LV Cup champions when they beat Exeter Chiefs 23-20 in the LV Cup final at Franklins Gardens on Sunday.
Saracens needed a penalty from Ben Spencer after 80 minutes to win the title and end Exeter Chiefs’ reign.
In a dramatic finale fitting for the weekend given the Six Nations action the day before, Exeter completed a big comeback thanks to full-back Max Bodilly’s try which was given after extensive replays by the TMO.
Gareth Steenson’s conversion tied things up at 20-20 with extra time on the cards, but Saracens worked their way upfield from the restart and after Greg Bateman gave away a kickable penalty, Spencer stepped up and did the rest.
The first half is remarkably low-scoring, with Ceri Sweeney adding two penalties to one from Spencer before the heavily-involved Saracens scrum-half spent ten minutes in the sin-bin.
Sweeney missed two other penalties in the first half while Nils Mordt’s drop goal attempt on the stroke of half-time fell wide, giving Exeter a slender lead.
The second half was a different affair altogether. Strettle put his renowned finishing skills to good use by sweeping up a loose pass from Ben White for the game’s first try.
Strettle then followed it up by collecting a cross field kick for his second try and by the time Nick de Jager found the line Saracens were cruising.
Cue the Chiefs’ fightback, benefiting from a yellow card to Saracens replacement hooker Scott Spurling before Bodilly grabbed his first try in the corner.
Tom James came close for Exeter but was stopped by Catalin Fercu’s last-ditch tackle, before Bodilly and Steenson combined to set up the tense finish.
Spencer though had other ideas, landing the winning penalty and denying Exeter the chance of back-to-back titles.
Final Score Saracens 23 (3) Exeter Chiefs 20 (6)
Tries – D Strettle (2), N De Jager
Pen – B Spencer
Con – B Spencer (2)
Tries – M Bodilly(2)
Pen – C Sweeney (2)
Con – G Steenson(2)
Referee :Ian Davies (Saracens)
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy (Saracens), Jon Mason (Saracens)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Saracens)
15 Max Bodilly, 14 Fetu'[u Vainikolo, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Sireli Naqelevuki, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney (c), 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Sam Simmonds, 6 Ben White, 5 Jerry Sexton, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Moray Low, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Byron McGuigan.
15 Ben Ransom, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Tim Streather, 11 David Strettle, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Matt Hankin, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Maro Itoje (c), 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jared Saunders, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 George Kruis, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Alex Goode, 23 Catalin Fercu.
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