Chiefs just fall short in epic final
- Credit: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK
Exeter Chiefs will be licking wounds after an excruciating defeat in one of the greatest club games in rugby history.
The Chiefs and Harlequins served up a sensational Gallagher Premiership Final at Twickenham, ultimately decided by two late tries from Louis Lynagh, son of Australian legend Michael, giving the Quins a 40-38 victory.
The breathtaking finale seemed a long way off when Chiefs made a nightmare start to the game, conceding an early penalty try for illegally pulling down a maul and Jonny Hill sent to the sin bin.
However, despite the numerical disadvantage, Chiefs began to find their rhythm and levelled up the try count when Jonny Gray bundled over the line on 20 minutes.
Alec Hepburn produced a similar score for Chiefs before the Quins took control in the minutes leading up to half-time, with Wilco Louw and Alex Dombrandt finding two tries to give the Londoners a lead at the break.
Quins continued to look the stronger side early in the second half and extended their advantage when Andre Esterhuizen finished off a fabulous team move.
The challenge had been set for the Chiefs to respond and they did so in superb style, scoring twice in 10 minutes, with Luke Cowan-Dickie and Joe Simmonds breaking the lines for Olle Devoto to touch down after Sam Simmonds had recorded his 21st try of the season moments earlier.
A penalty gave Chiefs a five-point advantage going into the closing stages but Lynagh then intervened with a brace of brilliant finishes to put the Quins within touching distance of the title.
There was still time for one more twist, with Stuart Hogg going over for Chiefs but it proved to be a consolation, as Quins held on for a spectacular two-point triumph.
Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter told BT Sport: "Quite frankly we weren't good enough were we? We conceded 40 points which tells you the whole story.
"Harlequins have come out and won the game with their energy and emotion and they deserve massive credit. We can talk about it and analyse it but it wasn't our day."