LONDON, May 27 (Reuters) - Exeter Chiefs were crowned English rugby’s Premiership champions for the first time on Saturday when veteran flyhalf Gareth Steenson landed a nerveless penalty three minutes from the end of extra-time to beat Wasps 23-20 in an epic Twickenham final.
Exeter, beaten in the final by Saracens last year, built a deserved 14-3 lead after 30 minutes with tries by Jack Nowell and Phil Dollman but Wasps finally found a way to unleash their top-drawer backs and well-crafted tries by Jimmy Gopperth and Elliot Daly either side of halftime helped them turn it into 20-14 lead midway through the second half.
Exeter eventually regrouped and cut the deficit to three but looked to have paid a heavy price for twice opting for a scrum when presented with kickable penalties – until they got a third a minute from time which Steenson landed to take the game to extra time.
With both sides wilting in the sunshine the game looked as if it might go to an unprecedented shoot-out until Exeter forced a scrum penalty with three minutes left which Steenson, one of the few survivors of the club from its second-tier days, duly landed. (Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Rex Gowar)