Exeter Chiefs crowned European Champions

PUBLISHED: 18:50 17 October 2020 | UPDATED: 19:31 17 October 2020

Exeter Chiefs celebrate after the European Cup win over Racing 92 at Ashton Gate, Bristol. Picture; ARCHANT

Exeter Chiefs celebrate after the European Cup win over Racing 92 at Ashton Gate, Bristol. Picture; ARCHANT

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.

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.

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!


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