From top of the tries to the pitch-perfect player, we dish out some titles ahead of the big final
Aviva Premiership Final: Exeter Chiefs v Saracens, 2pm, Saturday 26 May, BT Sport 1/HD (CH 531/527)
After months of mud, sweat and tears, we’re now just one game away from finding out who really is the best side in England, as Exeter Chiefs take on Saracens in the Aviva Premiership Final.
The winner-takes-all shoot-out at Twickenham Stadium is live and exclusive on BT Sport, and we’re expecting an afternoon filled with hard-hitting action of the very highest order. But while we wait for this unmissable showdown to kick off, we’ve cast our eye back over what’s been a spectacular campaign to honour the great and the good with our own awards…
Player Of The Season
Niki Goneva, Newcastle Falcons
At 34, the Fijian Falcon shows no signs of slowing down. The league’s leading try scorer, he plundered 13 five-pointers from the wing during the season and has arguably been the driving force behind Newcastle’s late swoop into the top four. Special mentions also for Wasps’ inventive full-back Willie Le Roux, who’s amassed a gobsmacking 21 assists, and Exeter Chiefs’ free-scoring number eight Sam Simmonds – whose younger bro and teammate Joe has undoubtedly been the breakthrough star of the season.
Match Of The Season
Leicester Tigers 16-15 Wasps, 25 March
This late-season clash between two of the league’s fiercest foes had it all: a scorching start from Wasps, glorious tries, intricate interplay, last-ditch defending – including the try-saving tackle of the season from Matthew Tait – and a roaring comeback from a resurgent Leicester. It encapsulated the very best of these Premiership grandees.
Try Of The Season
Sinoti Sinoti for Newcastle Falcons v Exeter Chiefs, 7 January
So good they named him twice, the Samoan international produced the step, shuffle and dummy of the season all in one lightning-fast break. Receiving the ball 60 metres out, with the touchline to his left and cover defence scattered in front, the winger turned the Chiefs’ James Short inside out, back to front and upside down for good measure to create just enough space to touch down in the corner.
Comeback Of The Season
Dean Richards, Newcastle Falcons director of rugby
Hands up who saw this coming? Nine years ago Richards lost his job as head coach at Harlequins and was slapped with a three-year ban from the game for his role in the infamous Bloodgate scandal. Having served his time, Richards is now at Newcastle and worked miracles in the North East this season, delivering their highest finish since winning the title back in 1997-98. A phoenix from the flames? More like a Falcon…
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