Aviva Premiership: Final spotlight on Exeter says Saracens’ George

PUBLISHED: 18:00 25 May 2018

Saracens' Jamie George scores a try during an Aviva Premiership match against Leicester (pic Nigel French/PA)

Saracens' Jamie George scores a try during an Aviva Premiership match against Leicester (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Jamie George insists the spotlight is thrust upon Exeter as Saracens look to summon all their big-game experience for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final.

The two outstanding teams in English club rugby collide at Twickenham in a repeat of the 2016 showpiece that saw the Chiefs defeated 28-20 after fighting back from a 23-6 deficit.

Since then they have succeeded Saracens as champions, beating their rivals in the 2017 play-offs before toppling Wasps a round later, and finishing the current regular season eight points clear at the summit of the table.

Saracens have grown accustomed to defending Premiership and European titles and George believes that Rob Baxter’s men may now be burdened by the responsibility to perform.

“Exeter might feel a little bit more pressure. We’ve wanted to have a shot at Exeter in one of these big games since last season so it’s nice to be given the opportunity,” the England hooker said.

“Big-game experience does help, it gives you the confidence knowing that we have done it and been through it.

“We also take confidence from having been in not so good places, like five months ago when we were losing games, we’ve come a long way.

“So you take a lot of confidence from that but you also know it’s a one-off game and we want to make sure we bring it.

“It’s where we want to be, in the big games. We’ve wanted to get better and we’ve been doing that in the last few years, we want to be involved and keep winning these finals.”

Billy Vunipola has been passed fit after struggling with a hamstring injury and forms part of an unchanged starting XV that has been installed as bookmakers’ favourites to claim a fourth Premiership title.

Saracens’ forwards might well be matched against the relentless continuity game of Exeter, who grabbed a startling 92 per cent of possession in the first half of their semi-final rout of Newcastle.

It is a mouth-watering showdown beautifully set up by the protagonists’ convincing wins in the play-offs, including 20 minutes of rugby that Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall described as the finest rugby his team have ever played.

“Exeter are impressive all round, they are comfortable in their own skin and in the way they play,” McCall said.

“Everybody understands what they’re doing and buys into it and they have got a good thing going there.

“But we think we do too. We have a group who are very comfortable with the way we play and we are very motivated.

“Individually we are playing well, as a team we are playing well and it is going to be a great contest.

“We are well aware that if they get 92 per cent possession against us we are probably going to lose this game. Hopefully that’s not going to be the case.”

Saracens’ long-serving wing Chris Wyles and hooker Schalk Brits will make their last appearances before retiring.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 18:27

An unbeaten half-century from James Harris saw visitors Middlesex complete an outstanding recovery to beat Leicestershire by one wicket in a marvellously tense finish to their Specsavers Division Two county championship match at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road.

Yesterday, 17:28

Belgium and Tunisia have met on three previous occasions in all competitions, with a win apiece and a draw. The encounters have been tight affairs, with victories decided by one-goal margins, but today’s match didn’t follow the same trend.

Yesterday, 12:00

Gareth Southgate’s promising young England side look ready to make a mark on the world stage and help atone for the disappointments of recent tournaments.

The temperature nudged the mercury towards nearly 30c as the man sat down on a bench, sited between Grace Road’s evocative pavilion and the sight screen.

Middlesex ended day three of their County Championship match at Grace Road on 82-3, 299 runs adrift with only seven wickets remaining.

Fri, 17:00

A day before the fun day, Highgate will take on Finchley at Shepherds Cot in the Middlesex County League Premier Division

Fri, 16:33

Brazil and Costa Rica were winless in their opening matches at the World Cup and were both hoping for their first victory of the tournament at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Middlesex bowled Leicestershire out for 186 in their second innings on a baking hot afternoon at Grace Road, to leave the visitors facing a challenging target of 381 to win.


Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Preparing your child in advance for school will go a long way towards ensuring the very best start for your child.

After over 50 years in the acting industry, and a decade of unprecedented success delivering outstanding part-time performing arts tuition at her weekend Academies across the country, Pauline Quirke returns to her roots to create even more opportunities for young performers in North London.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now