Exeter Chiefs crowned European Champions
- Credit: Archant
Exeter Chiefs won a thrilling European Cup final, defeating French outfit Racing 92, 31-17.
Exeter Chiefs are European Cup champions after a thrilling 31-27 victory over French side Racing 92 at Ashton Gate in Bristol.
The Chiefs were worthy winners, but they had to work mighty hard to see off a resilient French outfit who battled their way back from an early 14-0 deficit to be within four points of the Chiefs for a long spell in the second half and then spent the final quarter of the match just a point behind! However, the Chiefs defence was simply awesome.
The Chiefs made a flying start with early tries from Luke Cowan-Dickie and Sam Simmonds with Joe Simmonds slotting both conversions.
The French men hit back to score two tries with one conversion of their own, but a minute before the break, prop Harry Williams powered over and another Simmonds kick sent Chiefs into the interval with a 21-12 lead.
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An early second half from Irish winger Simon Zebo made it 21-19, but the Chiefs powered back with Jack Nowell intercepting a Finn Russell pass and he played the ball inside for Henry Slade to cross under the posts and a fourth successful Simmonds kick took Chiefs back into a nine point lead.
In a terrific contest of end-to-end rugby, the French side scored the games eighth try and then slotted a penalty to close to within a point, leaving Chiefs holding a 28-27 advantage with just 15 minutes to play.
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Both teams rang then changes to send fresh legs into the thick of the action.
With eight minutes remaining the Chiefs’ replacement prop Tomas Francis received a yellow card and headed for the sin bin after a ‘deliberate knock-on’.
The defence from the Chiefs was immense, the tension was palpable and, with almost 75 minutes on the clock the Chiefs won a turnover just inches from their line.
The ball was cleared to a line-out where , as the clock ticked into 76 minutes, another penalty was awarded and Slade went for distance - and found touch with a 70-metre kick.
However, there was still time for more high drama with the Chiefs then slotting a last gasp penalty - again from the trusty foot of Joe Simmonds and, after the ball sailed between the posts a conversation was carried on between the match referee Nigel Owens and the TMO after which the final whistle was blown and Exeter Chiefs were European champions!