Simon Mail previews this year's Premiership final at Twickenham and expects champions Saracens to complete a domestic and European double...
"Exeter were no match for them 12 months ago in the final as Saracens clinched a 27-10 victory and it was the same story two years ago when they won 28-20. Saracens' recent record at Twickenham is exceptional winning their last seven matches at the stadium."
Relentless Saracens worthy favourites
Saracens v Exeter
Live on BT Sport 1
For the second year in a row, the Premiership final will feature champions Saracens and Exeter with the two dominant English clubs again fighting it out for the title. It is no surprise these teams will contest the final at Twickenham after finishing in the top two during the regular season. There is a significant gulf in relation to the other teams in the competition and this is the third final between them in four seasons.
Saracens have their sights set on a European and domestic double after their Champions Cup triumph over Leinster. Mark McCall's side produced a ruthless performance to overcome the holders in Newcastle and their focus is on repeating their double success achieved three years ago.
Although Saracens finished second in the Premiership, the target was always to peak for the knockout stages and there is no doubt the club are in excellent shape to defend their title. After conceding an early try last week, Saracens dominated their semi-final as they eased to a 44-19 win over Gloucester. Replacement Nick Tompkins scored a hat-trick with the side running in six tries at Allianz Park.
There are no weaknesses in the Saracens team with exceptional depth to the squad, as Tompkins proved after coming off the bench last week. Fly-half Owen Farrell leads the backline with the exceptionally consistent Alex Goode a major attacking threat. Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje are huge physical assets in the forwards and the team appear to be peaking perfectly for the final as they target a fifth Premiership title.
Dangerous Exeter not to be underestimated
Saracens' opponents Exeter also head into the final in rude health and Rob Baxter's side are determined to win their second Premiership title. The Chiefs finished top of the Premiership, for the second year in a row, with their highest total of 86 points. Exeter won 17 of their 22 league games and the side are contesting the final for the fourth successive season. The most recent clash between the sides saw Saracens defeat Exeter 38-7 at the start of May but this result should not be over analysed with both clubs effectively fielding second-string sides.
Exeter brushed aside Northampton in their semi-final after easing to a 42-12 victory. In back-to-back games against the Saints over the last fortnight, the Chiefs have scored 82 points which underlines the attacking ability throughout the side. Sam and Joe Simmonds both scored while pacy winger Tom O'Flaherty also crossed the line for one of Exeter's six tries during their knockout win over Northampton at Sandy Park.
This is the third Premiership final between the teams and Saracens have been the dominant force so far with victories in both clashes. Exeter were no match for them 12 months ago as Saracens clinched a 27-10 victory and it was the same story two years ago when they won 28-20. Saracens' recent record at Twickenham is exceptional winning their last seven matches at the stadium.
Saracens' ability in recent years to win on the biggest stage is unrivalled, winning three of the last four Premiership finals, which suggests they are worthy favourites again. Exeter are certainly not discounted but they will have to be at their best and will probably need Saracens to have an off day.
It is difficult to see this happening though with McCall's side so well drilled and reliable, as they showed in their European masterclass against Leinster. Saracens' last seven wins have all been by at least ten points and the champions are backed to defend their title by covering a nine-point handicap with another victory over Exeter.
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P/L 2018-19 season