More than a year since it commenced, the 2019-20 Premiership reaches a tantalising climax as Exeter and Wasps clash at Twickenham today. Here's what you need to know
Premiership final Exeter v Wasps live stream: Match preview and how to watch
Phew, almost there. After an avalanche of games post lockdown passed without incident, recent weeks have seen Covid-19 cause a degree of chaos to the enthralling 2019-20 Gallagher Premiership season run-in.
Today’s final between Exeter and Wasps at Twickenham (6pm) was in jeopardy until midweek. Even though Wasps got the green light to play, 11 of their 33-man squad are unavailable having tested positive for coronavirus or been in close contact with someone who has. Four of the absent 11 would have been in today’s match-day squad.
A knock-on effect is that Wasps have barely trained in the past fortnight, although head coach Lee Blackett said: “You could argue we’ll be fresh.”
Referee Wayne Barnes has also tested positive for Covid-19 and so will miss out on his tenth final. Craig Maxwell-Keys takes charge of it for the first time while Danae Zamboulis becomes the first woman to serve as citing officer in a Premiership final.
In 2017, the two teams produced a classic Premiership final in which Wasps came within 30 seconds of victory. Then Nathan Hughes conceded a breakdown penalty that Gareth Steenson kicked to square the match. A collapsed scrum allowed Steenson to win it in extra time.
Twickenham throbbed with tension and excitement that glorious May day. This evening’s match in the cavernous stadium will lack the atmosphere but it could prove another belter, even if the weather doesn’t play ball.
Exeter are heavily favoured by the bookies. They topped the table with ease – the gap over Wasps narrowing late on only because Chiefs rested players – and are buoyed by bagging their first Heineken Champions Cup crown a week ago. They are bidding to emulate Leicester, Wasps and Saracens in achieving a domestic and European double.
Wasps will not be cowed, having won three of the past five Premiership meetings. And they have been tearing up trees this year, winning 12 of their past 13 league matches with an average of five tries and 40 points a game.
Explaining how they’ve shot from tenth place last Christmas to title contenders, centre Jimmy Gopperth told BT Sport recently: “The main thing is we stayed positive to our process and what we’re trying to achieve.
“The number one thing that Lee has installed with us is enjoyment. You bash your body every day, so when you come out to play a game you’ve got to have a smile on your face. You’ve got to enjoy it, otherwise there’s no point.”
The sides met as recently as three weeks ago, when Wasps thrashed an understrength Chiefs 46-5. Exeter had won 38-3 earlier in the season, although Wasps are a different animal now.
Even so, four of Chiefs’ five tries derived from the forwards – two pick and goes, a lineout drive and a penalty try from an advancing scrum. That is what Exeter do to opponents on a regular basis and it’s a measure of the task facing Wasps today.
Wasps are chasing their fifth Premiership final victory, which would see them tie with Saracens for most titles in the play-off era. If they’re to succeed, they’ll need to spoil Exeter’s possession at the breakdown, as Racing managed to do at times in the Champions Cup final.
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Back-row Jack Willis has been monumental this season and will need to be again. “Why is he the Premiership Player of the Season? Because time and time again he makes huge impacts when it counts,” said Austin Healey during Wasps’ semi-final win over Bristol. “Those guys (selectors) watching… if you pick anyone else, we need someone else in charge of England.”
Willis is exceptional in several areas but his 44 turnovers won in this season’s Premiership – more than the next two players on the list combined – is astonishing. Exeter will surely plan to resource the rucks a little more diligently than a week ago.
The Chiefs freshen up their starting XV, with Ollie Devoto replacing Ian Whitten at centre and Olly Woodburn getting the nod over Tom O’Flaherty on the wing. Up front, Sam Skinner and Jannes Kirsten start in place of Jonny Gray and Jacques Vermeulen respectively.
Gareth Steenson, the club’s record point-scorer, makes his final appearance before joining the coaching staff next season. The Ulsterman has scored 2,630 points in 311 appearances for Exeter and will bow out as a Chiefs legend.
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DoR Rob Baxter said: “Wasps have been smouldering for a few weeks, sitting there waiting, preparing, getting ready for what in every sense is the biggest game of the season.
“In every meeting we’ve told the players we have to make sure we hit the pitch and match Wasps in every area, because they are going to bring a physicality and an intensity that will be right up there. I’d love for the players to round off their season in a special way by producing one of those big Exeter-type performances.”
Wasps also make four changes from their previous match, the semi-final against Bristol.
Tom Willis joins brother Jack in the back row, Jeff Toomaga-Allen and Tom West both start in the front row, and Juan de Jongh pairs up with Gopperth in midfield.
Brad Shields, Kieran Brookes, Simon McIntyre and Alfie Barbeary are all unavailable after being ruled out due to contact tracing protocols. Malakai Fekitoa misses out through a groin injury picked up against the Bears.
Blackett said: “It hasn’t been ideal preparation but the players have coped with it admirably.
“A lot of credit must also go to the staff, especially team manager Dave Bassett, head of medical Ali James and club doctor Ralph Mitchell. The amount of work that they’ve put in behind the scenes to allow us to play this game is phenomenal.
“The one thing we spoke about at the start of the season is being adaptable. Now the players will do everything they can to put in a performance. We know it will be tough but we are confident with the form that we can take into the game.”
Here are a few more interesting stats about today’s game…
* This will be Exeter’s fifth successive Premiership final, and sixth Premiership game at Twickenham. Their sole victory at the venue was that defeat of Wasps in the 2017 final.
* Wasps haven’t won the title since 2008, when Exeter were still in the RFU Championship.
* Exeter have the best goalkicking success rate (88%) in the Premiership this season, ahead of second-placed Wasps (81%). Individually Gareth Steenson (92%) and Joe Simmonds (89%) have the best rates in the league.
* Chiefs full-back Stuart Hogg has averaged 86 metres gained per league match this season – the third-highest figure in the competition.
* Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson has had a hand in 20 tries (13 assists, 7 tries) in the Premiership this season, more than any other player.
* Jack Willis’s turnover tally of 44 in this season’s Premiership is the most recorded since Opta began collecting this data in 2008/09.
* Wasps wing Zach Kibirige has made more clean breaks (30) than any other player in the league this season. He is one of five players with ten tries in this campaign, Chiefs forwards Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds being others. Ollie Thorley and Ben Earl have 11 each.
* Gareth Steenson has scored 1,651 points in his Premiership career. Six more points would see him leapfrog Nick Evans as the fourth-highest scorer in the competition’s history.
Although sadly there will be no fans at Twickenham today, you can still buy the official match programme – click here to get your memento.
Below you can watch highlights of the incredible 2017 final, won 23-20 by Exeter.
Exeter: Stuart Hogg; Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ollie Devoto, Olly Woodburn; Joe Simmonds (capt), Jack Maunder; Alec Hepburn, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Sam Skinner, Jonny Hill, Dave Ewers, Jannes Kirsten, Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ian Whitten.
Wasps: Matteo Minozzi; Zach Kibirige, Juan de Jongh, Jimmy Gopperth, Josh Bassett; Jacob Umaga, Dan Robson; Tom West, Tommy Taylor, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Joe Launchbury (capt), Will Rowlands, Jack Willis, Thomas Young, Tom Willis.
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Michael Le Bourgeois.
Here’s how to find a reliable live stream for today’s Premiership final wherever you are…
How to watch Exeter v Wasps from outside your country
If you’re abroad but still want to watch your local Premiership coverage, like Exeter v Wasps, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network.
VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address, so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Premiership live stream you would at home.
Our friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN and recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.
Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.
Exeter v Wasps live stream: How to watch from the UK
Exeter v Wasps, which kicks off at 6pm today, will be shown live on BT Sport 1 in the UK. Coverage starts at 5.15pm. If you don’t have a BT contract but want to watch the match, don’t worry because you can still easily watch it online.
That’s because BT Sport has a contract-free monthly pass that allows you to get instant access to all four of their sport channels for just £25.
If you’re from the UK but are overseas when the Premiership final takes place, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN – see the information above.
Channel 5 will be showing highlights of the final tomorrow – the show starts at 1.05pm.
Exeter v Wasps live stream: How to watch from Europe
If you’re in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you can watch the Premiership final (kick-off 7pm) through the live and on-demand streaming service DAZN.
Exeter v Wasps live stream: How to watch from the USA
If you live in the States, the official broadcaster of Premiership matches is NBC, with matches streamed on NBC Sports Gold so you can watch them anytime and anywhere.
Exeter v Wasps will kick off at 1pm EST and 10am on the West Coast.
The NBC Sports Gold Pass for rugby is $79.99 and includes coverage of the Gallagher Premiership, European Champions and Challenge Cups, and Guinness Six Nations.
Exeter v Wasps live stream: How to watch from Australia
For those in Australia, Fox Sports have the rights to show Premiership matches and you can watch Exeter v Wasps at 4am on Sunday (AEST).
The Foxtel Sports HD bundle is $74 a month – and you get 50+ other channels as well as Foxtel GO so you can watch when on the move.
Exeter v Wasps live stream: How to watch from New Zealand
It’s little wonder that Sky Sport NZ, with ten sports channels, including one dedicated to rugby, is the rights-holder for Premiership matches in New Zealand.
If you want to tune in to the Premiership final from the Land of the Long White Cloud, the match kicks off at 6am on Sunday on Sky Sport NZ 1.
It costs $31.99 a month to add Sky Sport to your Sky Starter pack ($25.99), but if you sign up for 12 months before 31 January you’ll get your first month free. Plus, you’ll get Sky Go, which allows you to watch live rugby wherever you are.
Exeter v Wasps live stream: How to watch from South Africa
If you want to keep track of the many South Africans plying their trade in the Premiership, SuperSport shows matches in South Africa. South Africa is one hour ahead of the UK, so Exeter v Wasps kicks off at 7pm on SuperSport Variety 1.
There are various DStv packages that give access to SuperSport, ranging from Access, which has the Blitz and Variety 4 channels, to Premium, which includes all 18 sports channels.
Exeter v Wasps live stream: How to watch from Japan
DAZN, which allows you to live stream sport or watch it on demand, is the place to go to watch the Premiership final in Japan (kick-off 2am). The service is compatible with smart TVs and phones, tablets, PCs, streaming sticks, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and more.
We recommend VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
- Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service)
- Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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