Wasps v Exeter: 'Don't leave Twickenham early', warns scrum-half Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson scored the last of the game's 10 tries to earn Wasps a 35-35 draw at Exeter in February
Wasps' 35-35 away draw with Exeter in February was the first time they have avoided defeat in the Premiership at Sandy Park
Aviva Premiership final
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Saturday, 27 May Kick-off: 14:30 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire and BBC Radio Devon, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson has one simple message for anyone lucky enough to have a ticket to see his side's Premiership final with Exeter at Twickenham - "Don't leave early".

A sell-out crowd of 82,000 will watch some of the world's best players lock horns on Saturday as Chiefs bid for a maiden title and Wasps a first crown since 2008.

The showpiece event of England's domestic season pairs two attack-minded sides, who have both broken the Premiership's existing try-scoring record this campaign. Wasps ran in 89 tries, while Exeter crossed the whitewash 86 times.

And both showed in their semi-finals their capacity for an exciting climax, clinching victory from the jaws of defeat.

"Never leave early when it comes to Wasps matches," Simpson, 28, told BBC Sport.

"We've won two or three matches in the last plays of the game. We really back our bench. We know we've got the fitness to keep up that level of performance for 85, 90 minutes. However long it takes, we keep battering on that drum."

Twickenham
A sold-out Twickenham watched Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs 28-20 in the 2016 Premiership final

Exeter must have thought they had stolen Saturday's semi-final thunder when Sam Simmonds' 79th-minute try saw off Saracens 18-16 at Sandy Park.

Victory over the holders, crowned European champions for a second successive time just a week earlier, partially avenged last year's defeat for the Chiefs in the Premiership final.

But Wasps got over the line in an even tighter game as Josh Bassett's last-gasp score earned a 21-20 victory over Leicester at the Ricoh Arena.

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'This final has everything'

"If you look at the two semi-finals, you'd be hard pressed to say that there's not a lot of potential there for a very good final," Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon.

"You look at the form of the two sides, level on points at the end of the season. It couldn't have been tighter coming through the actual league stage.

Christian Wade

"We were the two highest points scorers and try-scorers in the league, we're both on good form and we both like to play good rugby so, if you talk about potentially good games, it kind of does have everything.

"We like to think that we've got there on merit, having played very well, but the truth is it's about getting to finals first and foremost. How you get there is only part of the story. It is very much about who turns up in the right frame of mind. Who is prepared to give as much to the game as is needed to win?

"We haven't talked too much about trying to stop Wasps doing what they do, because, if we play our game we'll deal with a lot of that anyway."

Attack, attack, attack

Since being established as a 12-team, 22-game league in 1999, Saracens had been the only Premiership team to have topped 80 tries in a campaign, but that haul of 83 has now been eclipsed by both of Saturday's finalists.

"There's not much difference between the two sides," says Simpson, Wasps' longest-serving player. "It's the best two attacking teams in the league. And it's a case of making sure we don't slip up.

Rob Baxter (left) and Dai Young
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter (left) and his opposite number Dai Young are building reputations for free-flowing rugby

"Mental lapses can cost you. But we've learned not to be on edge. We play better when we're relaxed. A heightened level of emotions can help but it can also be a hindrance. It's about controlling those emotions.

"I've always had the belief that Wasps should be up there challenging for silverware. It has been frustrating the last 10 years, with troubles on and off the pitch, but we feel we've really come through the other side."

Attack the best form of defence?

  • This season has seen the highest number of tries in a 22-game Premiership campaign (725) since 1999-2000, when 750 were scored.
  • Both Wasps (89) and Exeter (86) broke the Premiership try-scoring record in a 22-game season, set by Saracens (83) in that 1999-2000 season.
  • Six of the Premiership's 12 try-scorers, led by Christian Wade (17), play for either Wasps or Exeter.
  • Of the Premiership's tightest defences this season, in terms of tries conceded, Exeter were only fifth best (55) and Wasps sixth (61).

We want to see good running rugby - Steenson

Wasps have now been the Premiership's leading try scorers for three campaigns in a row, albeit jointly with Chiefs last season, and have averaged more than four tries per game in 2016-17.

Meanwhile, Exeter have broken the league record for most bonus point victories with 15, eight of them coming in a row - another record.

"We always have good games against Wasps," Exeter stand-off Gareth Steenson told BBC Radio Devon. "They're always tight affairs, but usually quite high-scoring, so hopefully it'll make for a really good final.

"History would say that it will. I believe the weather's going to be good, so hopefully we'll see some good running rugby."

"You have to give credit to the coaches," says Chiefs loose forward Thomas Waldrom, the Premiership's try top try scorer in 2015-16. "Ali Hepher does a lot on our attack but you've got to pride yourself on defence as well. Baxter does a lot on our defence. You want to make that a force too.

"It's nice to get the chance to go back to Twickenham and right the wrongs a little bit. Go out and actually play in the first half and attack. We probably didn't do that the first time around."

Exeter Chiefs

'A never-ending wave of talent'

Former England and British and Irish Lions centre Jeremy Guscott was a key part of the Bath side which won six Premiership crowns in the late 1980s and 1990s.

And the 51-year-old expects a cracking game in the capital.

"With what Wasps have at their disposal, you just feel that they have a side made to score tries," he said.

"Kurtley Beale, Christian Wade, Danny Cipriani, Elliot Daly - it can feel like a never-ending wave of talent. All coupled with speed of thought and speed of hands.

"Then you look at the pack at someone like Nathan Hughes and the impact he has had over the past 18 months.

"But just go back to Exeter in Saturday's semi-final and you see what they're all about and why they score so many tries too.

"That kick of Henry Slade's to the corner from which they scored their late try against Saracens was an all-or-nothing moment. Just what sport is all about.

"They have evolved from when they first got to the Premiership. They have a more expansive game now. That is why they score as many tries as they do."

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