Harlequins ended a nine year wait for glory after a stunning victory at Twickenham. Louis Lynagh’s two late tries was enough to see of a brave Chiefs side in one of the finest Premiership finals ever.
Chiefs went into the final as the current holders with Quins having to come from 28-0 down to get the better of Bristol Bears in their semi-final.
Referee Matthew Carley was involved with the action early on when Quins were awarded a penalty with Marcus Smith kicking for touch. From the resulting lineout Quins rumbled over with Carley awarding a penalty try and sending Jonny Hill to the bin for persistently collapsing the maul.
Chiefs hit back when Jonny Gray went over after a quick tap and go with the conversion successful it was 7-7 after 18 minutes. Exeter were forcing Quins into errors and eventually Smith was shown a yellow card for Quins constantly straying offside.
The double champions took the lead for the first time when Alec Hepburn went over after the TMO was consulted, the try was awarded. With Smith still in the bin Harlequins Wilco Louw powered over from close range after spinning and dotting down. Kicking duties were left for Joe Marchant, but his effort came off the post.
With half time approaching Quins went into the break holding a narrow 19-14 lead after Smith’s inside pass into Alex Dombrandt saw the back rower run in. Smith kicked the extras to give the Londoners a slender advantage after a pulsating half of rugby.
Harlequins started the second half on the front foot and got their just rewards after just two minutes of the restart with a brilliant team try consisting of excellent handling with Andre Esterhuizen crashing over. Smith added the extra points to give Harlequins a useful 12-point cushion.
Chiefs aren’t doble champions for no reason and hit back in dazzling style with two tries inside five minutes. Sam Simmonds grabbed his 21st of the season when he touched down after getting the better of a wall of Quins defenders. Simmonds set up Chiefs next try by ghosting through a gap to pass to Ollie Devoto to cross. With the conversion successful, Chiefs had got their noses back in front. Three more points were added to the total with a penalty kick to give Exeter a five-point lead at 31-26.
Still Harlequins refused to throw in the towel and responded with Smith setting up Lynagh to go over. Lynagh picked up his second try of the afternoon by dotting down to give Harlequins a nine-point lead at 40-31 and withing touching distance of the trophy.
However, straight from the kick off Quins switched off with Stuart Hogg going over. The conversion was successful with a two-point game going into the final two minutes of the game.
With Exeter pushing forward, Quins managed to turn the ball over with the clock in the red to record one of if not their greatest ever victory in their history.
Exeter Chiefs 38 Harlequins 40
Gallagher Premiership Final Saturday 26th June 2021
By Peter Moore