Exeter Chiefs 38-40 Harlequins, Twickenham Stadium
Louis Lynagh scored two tries in the final 10 minutes as Harlequins came from behind to beat Exeter Chiefs 40-38 in the final at Twickenham Stadium to clinch the Gallagher Premiership title.
This is the second time Quins have won the Premiership with their previous title win coming in the 2011/12 season when they defeated Leicester Tigers 30-23 in the final.
Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs entered the final for the sixth consecutive time but now have lost four times with the previous three defeats coming against Saracens in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Playing in front of 10,000 spectators, Quins turned down an early penalty opportunity as Jonny Hill was penalised for an offside in the fifth minute as Marcus Smith kicked to the corner to set up a line out. Exeter had an early setback with Hill sin-binned a minute later for illegally bringing down a maul that also resulted in a penalty try for Harlequins.
Even though Exeter looked to capitalise successive infringements from the Quins, they could not quite get their opening points until they returned to full strength. Just as the first quarter was about to end, it was Jonny Gray, who dived from close range beating an attempted tackle from Matt Symons for Exeter's first try and skipper Joe Simmonds slotted the conversion to level the scores.
Exeter seized the lead for the first time in the game when Alec Hepburn scored a close-range try in the 29th minute and the try was awarded after referee Matthew Carley consulted with the TMO as the Quins lost their playmaker Smith to yellow card for a deliberate offside. Simmonds kicked the conversion as the scoreline became 14-7.
Despite being down by a player, Harlequins had the strongest finish to the opening half after exerting pressure on Exeter pushing them defensive and then set a 5m scrum at the end of which Wilco Louw dotted down in the 38th minute and in the added minutes of the first half, Quins got their third try with Alex Dombrandt crashing over after gathering an inside pass from Smith, who also kicked the conversion as they went into the break with a 14-19 lead.
Harlequins extended their momentum into the second half when Joe Marchant sent Andre Esterhuizen over the line in the 44th minute and Smith kicked the extras making it 14-26 before Exeter clawed their way back scoring back to back tries in a span of five minutes.
First it was Sam Simmonds, who already broke the record for most tries in the season claimed his 21st touchdown in the 49th minute with his brother Joe kicking the conversion. Five minutes later Joe Simmonds breached the defence of the Quins in allowing Ollie Devoto to crossover with the Exeter skipper kicking the extras to make it 28-26.
There were more injury concerns for British and Irish Lions as Exeter's Luke Cowan-Dickie went down in the 61st minute when his head hit a knee in a tackle but was able to return to his feet and walk off the pitch and was replaced by Jack Yeandle. Joe Simmonds' maiden penalty goal in the 67th minute took Exeter past the 30-point mark but Lynagh with his heroics scoring back to back tries in the 72nd and 76th minutes followed by Smith's double conversion took the scoreline to 31-40.
Even though, Exeter managed a late try through Scotland's Stuart Hogg, they could not quite get over the line as Quins went on to win their second Premiership title with a thrilling two-point victory.
Team line up:
Exeter: Nowell; Cuthbert, Slade, Devoto, O'Flaherty; J Simmonds, Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Jonny Gray, Hill, Kirsten, Capstick, S Simmonds.
Reserves: Yeandle, Moon, Street, Lonsdale, Armand, Townsend, H Skinner, Hogg.
Harlequins: Green; Lynagh, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Murley; Smith, Care; Marler, Baldwin, Louw, Symons, Lewies, Chisholm, Kenningham, Dombrandt.
Reserves: Joe Gray, Garcia Botta, Collier, Lamb, Lawday, Landajo, Tapuai, Northmore.
Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the world...it can only be the Gallagher Premiership.
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