Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins: Three key battles that could decide Premiership Final at Twickenham

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·1-min read
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins: Three key battles that could decide Premiership Final at Twickenham
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 (Getty Images for Harlequins)
(Getty Images for Harlequins)

Harlequins will look to dethrone reigning champions Exeter Chiefs in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership Final at Twickenham - their first appearance in the top-flight showpiece since 2012.

Here, Standard Sport’s rugby correspondent Will Macpherson assesses three key battles that are likely to prove pivotal to the outcome of the contest...

Marcus Smith v Joe Simmonds

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

At 22 and 24 respectively, here are two extraordinary — and pretty different — young playmaking talents. Smith offers pure flair, whereas Simmonds is an impressively-tempered leader with superb all-round skills.

There is a sub-plot, too, in that both men will be looking to impress Eddie Jones, who is without George Ford and Owen Farrell this summer.

Alex Dombrandt v Sam Simmonds

 (Getty Images for Harlequins)
(Getty Images for Harlequins)

A pair of wonderful power runners go head-to-head at the base of the scrum. Simmonds’ try-scoring feats this year are unparalleled, but Dombrandt has scored 10 times himself this season and he sparked the comeback against Bristol in the semi-final.

Dombrandt is a bigger, barrelling presence with delightful hands, while Simmonds — looking to sign off in style before linking up with the Lions — has gorgeous feet.

Joe Marchant v Henry Slade

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It would not be a surprise if Slade is another player rested by Jones this summer. If he is, Marchant is a likely beneficiary. His superb all-round game has come on since his stint in Auckland last year, and he arrives in rude form after two tries in the semi.

Slade is a key man for Exeter, whether through his slick distribution, gliding running, superb defence, or booming boot.

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