Packer hoping for final redemption against Chiefs

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Marlie Packer is excited for the final clash against Exeter Chiefs.
Marlie Packer is excited for the final clash against Exeter Chiefs.

England international Marlie Packer reckons Saracens will be howling their way to redemption when they take on Exeter Chiefs in the Allianz Premier 15s final on Friday.

Packer’s squad are one of just two trophy-winners in the Premier 15s era, claiming back-to-back titles before losing to Harlequins in last season’s final.

Chiefs, who finished second behind Saracens in the regular season, will become just the third squad to make a league final—though Packer is determined the Jubilee holiday will end in elation for her side at Sixways.

She said: "I think the mentality and the drive and desire to be the best - it's not just to win a game, it's to leave that shirt in the best possible way you can.

"People talk about the fact that we are quite harsh on each other but it is because we want the best for one another and we want the best for the team.

"We are a wolf pack and whatever we do we do it together. If one goes one way, we all go with it and that's how we got to finals."

The teams clashed earlier this month in the penultimate round of the competition, with Exeter putting up a dominating 54-12 win over ultimate table-toppers Saracens.

Saracens head coach Alex Austerberry is determined to reverse that result when the title match kicks off at 3pm.

He said: "We've got an unbelievable, talented group of players who have got immense character. It does not take a lot for us to dust ourselves off and go again.

"We fell short of the standards we set ourselves so it's certainly in the back of your mind but it's not first and foremost.

"I'm not overly concerned with what happened there and come Friday it will be a very different game and hopefully we will put on a performance that reflects our standards.

"Hopefully the outcome is lifting the trophy instead of watching someone else do this."

Exeter Chiefs head coach Susie Appleby believes her squad has even more in the tank as their second season in the English top-flight reaches its conclusion.

In April, the squad lifted the inaugural Allianz Cup, created to allow more competition for clubs during the international breaks, and Appleby is optimistic her full-strength squad won’t disappoint.

She said: "We are not like any other team, we are in our second season. We are confident, we have made our way to a final and we deserve to be in it.

"We are 36 games down the line now and there has been a lot of gelling happen and in just a few months I feel that we have really gained momentum.

"We had a bit of a reset and a push and in the last three games of the season we've really taken great strides and we knew that any team that's put in front of us, if we're on our money we can beat any of those sides."

The odds may be against them, but back row Linde van der Velden insists any underestimation is simply fuel for her determined squad.

She said: "We don't mind being the underdogs. We have been the under dogs last year as well and we made the top six.

"We just want to play a good game and show the Chiefs fans and family and play the best we can. And if we play like we can we have a good chance of winning."

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