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Exeter Chiefs 31-27 Racing 92: Exeter earn first European triumph in Champions Cup thriller

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exeter chiefs 31 27 racing 92 exeter earn first european triumph in champions cup thriller

As the streamers filled the air and flamethrowers lit up the night sky, it was a fitting end to Exeter’s fairytale that two local lads lifted the trophy.

Rob Baxter watched on with glazed eyes as Jack Yeandle and Joe Simmonds hoisted the Champions Cup above their heads.

Almost a decade after winning promotion from the second division of English rugby, Exeter completed their long and unpredictable journey from the corners of Devon to the summit of Europe. 

Exeter can now complete a domestic and European double after winning the Champions Cup

Exeter can now complete a domestic and European double after winning the Champions Cup

Exeter can now complete a domestic and European double after winning the Champions Cup

The Chiefs took on French side Racing 92 met at Ashton Gate in the final of the Champions Cup

The Chiefs took on French side Racing 92 met at Ashton Gate in the final of the Champions Cup

The Chiefs took on French side Racing 92 met at Ashton Gate in the final of the Champions Cup

The Premiership outfit were bidding to be crowned the champions of Europe for the first time

The Premiership outfit were bidding to be crowned the champions of Europe for the first time

The Premiership outfit were bidding to be crowned the champions of Europe for the first time

This could be the start of a new era of dominance and, given the scale of their achievement, it is surely a matter of time before a statue of Baxter is erected outside Sandy Park.

Ever since he changed the numbers on the club’s scoreboard as a child, Baxter’s name has been synonymous with their rise through the ranks – and he is now on course to lead his side to a famous double.

Half an hour after the final whistle, Jack Nowell was still sitting in the middle of the pitch, embracing the moment. Like his team-mates, the winger fought for every inch as the 14-men Chiefs held on for the narrowest of victories.

‘It’s an incredible story for these guys and an incredible story for the club,’ said Baxter. ‘It’ll be a game I remember for a long time. That last 10 minutes seemed to go on forever but we saw it out. It looks like it was meant to be.  

Ollie Devoto was left ecstatic after a thrilling second half in which Racing fought back fiercely

Ollie Devoto was left ecstatic after a thrilling second half in which Racing fought back fiercely

Ollie Devoto was left ecstatic after a thrilling second half in which Racing fought back fiercely

Racing had built up in a bio-secure bubble in Corsica following several positive Covid-19 tests

Racing had built up in a bio-secure bubble in Corsica following several positive Covid-19 tests

Racing had built up in a bio-secure bubble in Corsica following several positive Covid-19 tests

‘The guys have made a lot of sacrifice to get through this stage and haven’t had their friends and support to see them in the biggest game of their lives. There’s a nice symmetry to a lot of things that have happened today.

‘Some are crying, delighted – some can hardly talk and some are over the moon. That’s what rugby is about and we got the emotions right.’

The Chiefs have never forgotten their roots. Of their 31 points, 26 were scored by academy products.

They have perfected their system through years of trial and error and the game played out like a contest between men and machines. It was the footloose and fancy-free Parisians against Exeter’s system of bone-crushing cogs.

The image before kick off summed up the contrasts in approach. While Exeter underwent coordinated team stretches before kick-off, Finn Russell was down the other end of the pitch juggling three rugby balls. 

Luke Cowan-Dickie (right) scores as the Chiefs claim an early lead against their depleted rivals

Luke Cowan-Dickie (right) scores as the Chiefs claim an early lead against their depleted rivals

Luke Cowan-Dickie (right) scores as the Chiefs claim an early lead against their depleted rivals

Referee Nigel Owens (fourth from right) awards Exeter a second try, scored by Sam Simmonds

Referee Nigel Owens (fourth from right) awards Exeter a second try, scored by Sam Simmonds

Referee Nigel Owens (fourth from right) awards Exeter a second try, scored by Sam Simmonds

Racing practised no-look passes and emerged for kick-off wearing pink bow ties. But the Chiefs dagger was sharper than any Parisian swagger.

In fact, there were early moments when Racing played as if they had just stumbled out of a late night dinner party.

Their scrum-half, Teddy iribaren, played with fire in the early exchanges. He missed touch with an early penalty and, a couple of minutes later, attempted to throw a quick lineout to himself.

Nowell snared the No 9 and forced a penalty. Exeter kicked to the corner and the cogs started turning. Jonny Gray claimed an attacking lineout and, inch by inch, they drove forward for Luke Cowan Dickie to score the opening try. 

Simon Zebo and Juan Imhoff replied in a gripping final as Racing threatened to turn the tide

Simon Zebo and Juan Imhoff replied in a gripping final as Racing threatened to turn the tide

Simon Zebo and Juan Imhoff replied in a gripping final as Racing threatened to turn the tide

A group of travelling French reserves tried to fire up their team with a screeching cacophony of air horns, but the squeeze continued.

Racing played with fire in their own 22 and Exeter turned up with a giant pail of water. Jonny Hill’s linespeed forced Russell to fumble the ball in his in-goal area and Exeter built pressure from the scrum. Sam Simmonds added his side’s second before the end of the first quarter.

For 20 minutes, Exeter managed to shackle Russell’s attaking instincts. Stuart Hogg shadowed the fly-haf behind the defensive line to leave no space for his dangerous chip kicks, with defenders shouting ‘Get Russell!’ to cut down his time on the ball.

Attempting to nullify Russell’s link with Virimi Vakatawa, Exeter left space out wide and Russell threw an inch-perfect miss pass to Simon Zebo, who found space to score on the right wing. 

Gareth Steenson enjoys a moment of glory with the trophy after Exeter's dramatic final victory

Gareth Steenson enjoys a moment of glory with the trophy after Exeter's dramatic final victory

Gareth Steenson enjoys a moment of glory with the trophy after Exeter’s dramatic final victory

From the front-row, Eddy Ben Arous and George Henri Colombe caused problems at the breakdown. They stole possession and disrupted Exeter’s rhythm.

Russell spread the ball from touchline to touchline, using stocky hooker Camille Chat to smash over the gain line. And Juan Imhoff was on hand to score his side’s second, throwing a dummy at the base of the ruck before sniping under the posts.

But the comeback was nipped in the bud.

Harry Williams drove over to score before half time, with the Chiefs once again showing their attacking potency from five metres out.

Racing replaced Iribaren with Maxime Machenaud at half time and began the second half with more direction.

Imhoff broke down the left following an interception, but was hauled down by a high tackle from Henry Slade. They remained camped in Chiefs territory, before Zebo collected another Russell pass to score another try down the right wing.

It seemed like the occasion had got into Exeter heads. They lost their edge and handed back possession through sloppy errors.

Chiefs hooker Jack Yeandle (centre) downs a well-earned beer alongside the victorious squad

Chiefs hooker Jack Yeandle (centre) downs a well-earned beer alongside the victorious squad

Chiefs hooker Jack Yeandle (centre) downs a well-earned beer alongside the victorious squad

Although Slade edged his side back after Nowell intercepted a Russell pass, the Parisians clawed their way back to 28-17 to set up a grandstand finish. Camille Chat drove over from a lineout, before Maxime Machenaud kicked a penalty.

Tomas Francis was sinbinned for a knock on in the 72nd minute and a late Racing victory seemed inevitable.

They built up 19 phases on the Chiefs tryline but were turned over by Sam Hidalgo Clyne. And Simmonds kicked a late penalty to round off the night, which will live long in Exeter memory.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Jack Wilshere reveals La Liga transfer could be on cards and insists ‘I’m not too young for MLS’ after West Ham axe

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jack wilshere reveals la liga transfer could be on cards and insists im not too young for mls after west ham axe scaled

JACK WILSHERE fancies a move to LaLiga and says he’s ‘not too young for the MLS’.

The former Arsenal midfielder is on the hunt for a club after he ‘had to get out’ of West Ham.

Jack Wilshere thinks he could do well in LaLiga

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Jack Wilshere thinks he could do well in LaLigaCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Wilshere, 28, and the Hammers mutually agreed to cancel his London Stadium contract earlier this month.

It was believed to be worth around £100,000-a-week.

Injuries limited the ex-England international to just 19 appearances for West Ham.

However, he claimed he was fit and ready for selection for his last nine months at the Irons – suggesting he was simply not picked by David Moyes.

Wilshere has no hard feelings towards his boyhood club now he has left and thinks the Spanish game would suit his style.

He told Sky Sports: “I’ve been speaking to my agent every couple of days.

“There’s been a few things that have come up and we’re still talking about it, but I’m not going to put a time on it because I want to make sure it’s right.

“LaLiga, Italy or Germany would be a nice change for me. Not many English players have done it.

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“I always watch LaLiga, it was always something I thought about. I like the league, I think it’s more technical than the English game.

“I think it’s somewhere I could really show what I can do.”

Wilshere has also been linked with a move stateside to the MLS.

And he has been keeping himself fit with personal training sessions in a park.

He added: “I don’t think I’m too young for the MLS. It’s on Sky Sports, I think there’s been a big improvement in that league.

“If the right opportunity came up I’d be open to it.”

Wilshere had been at the London Stadium since 2018 when he moved on a free after his Arsenal contract expired.



He featured in just one game for the East London side this campaign – the 5-1 win against Hull in the Carabao Cup on September 22.

And despite the disappointing way his West Ham career turned out, most fans wished him well on his departure and Wilshere is glad he’s moved on.

He explained: “I was probably getting to that point, if I had stayed another year, where it would have been really tough mentally to come back from.

“I never had a fall out with him [Moyes]. I’ve got a lot of friends at West Ham and it was nothing personal against them.

“I still speak to a lot of the players, but I just had to get out. I couldn’t spend another year not playing, especially at my age.

“I just want to play games – I want to get back to playing 25-30 games a season, when you can really get your confidence back and a smile on your face.

“Just playing football, what I used to do when I was a little bit younger. I still feel like I can do it and I want to prove everyone wrong.”

Jack Wilshere is fit and ready to go

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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2pm Arsenal news LIVE: Umtiti transfer LATEST, Ozil donates kids’ meals, Dundalk build-up, Mike Dean is Man Utd ref

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2pm arsenal news live umtiti transfer latest ozil donates kids meals dundalk build up mike dean is man utd ref
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ARSENAL aim to bounce back this week when they take on Irish side Dundalk in the Europa League.

And then at the weekend it’s old rivals Manchester United in a HUGE Premier League clash.

Follow ALL of the latest Gunners transfer gossip and news below…

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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2pm Chelsea news LIVE: Krasnodar build up, Rudiger ‘to return to squad’, Ziyech fitness test

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2pm chelsea news live krasnodar build up rudiger to return to squad ziyech fitness test
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CHELSEA face Krasnodar in Russia in the Champions League this week.

On the transfer front, the Blues are reportedly offering Declan Rice £120,000-a-week to join the club in January.

Get all the latest updates from Stamford Bridge here…

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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