TWICKENHAM -- Saracens now have their fourth title in five years and the domestic double as they sprung a remarkable comeback against Exeter Chiefs to ensure they remain the dominant force in English rugby.
For so long they told us there was something special happening there. They were right. This team has created a dynasty of success and there is no sign of them slowing down.
It had to be Jamie George who scored the game-sealing try. He has been the outstanding hooker in northern hemisphere rugby this season and is still just as effective in the loose as he is doing his day job in the scrum. As he crashed over in the 78th minute, he secured Saracens their unassailable lead. Job done.
But for so long this looked like it might be Exeter's day, as they headed into the fourth quarter 13 points ahead with Saracens out of sorts. But until George's score, there was never a moment you felt this game was a foregone conclusion. It was the sort of match where you are permanently perched on the edge of your seat, anticipating one of the players to conjure the incredible, or another who we deemed unfallable would then stun us with an uncharacteristic error.
As 'Tomahawk Chop', Exeter Chiefs supporters' song, rang around Twickenham for the bulk of the match, etching its way into the final's tapestry, it was a game where you dared not take your eyes off that patch of green in front of you. Blink and you'll miss a try, or a title-changing moment -- just like in the 68th minute when Richard Wigglesworth, in his seventh final, spotted a gap in the formidable Exeter defence and seconds later Sean Maitland scored the try that secured Saracens the Premiership for the fourth time in five years.
Saracens found an incredible way to find another gear in the final quarter. Just when Exeter started to believe, Maro Itoje suddenly got a grip on the game, Owen Farrell got his peripheral vision back, those in red found their swagger and with that came the one-two punch of Farrell's crosskick to Liam Williams to score and then Maitland's try eight minutes later.
Saracens had gone from 27-16 down, to 30-27 ahead in the space of 11 minutes. That's why they are undoubtedly Europe's finest team and this group would offer a strong claim for the finest domestic side of the professional era.
It was a baking day at Twickenham, where sun-cream mixed seamlessly with overpriced lager in the stands and then car parks afterwards. It was a celebration of another wonderful season of Premiership rugby, but this final was an inevitability from the moment the first tries were scored this season.
Exeter and Saracens are far and away the best teams in the land and while Gloucester, Northampton and Harlequins are best poised to lay some claim to the top table, these two are threatening a monopolisation of this final for the next handful of years.
Both teams have a remarkable ability to re-invent themselves and constantly evolve. Other teams try and emulate their models -- just like Test teams do with the All Blacks. But the reality is, when you are trying to play catch up through imitation, then inevitably, once you have caught up with the leaders then they have already moved another step ahead.
While both are canny with recruitment -- it can't be forgotten Saracens are facing further investigation around the salary cap -- they have both managed to forge a mentality where teammate stands next to teammate but are drawn together in a mutual understanding of gameplan and their own unique skill-sets and sensibilities. That's why these two teams are better than the rest -- they are more than mere gameplans. They have the ability to find additional gears out of nowhere.
Exeter went into an early lead after just 25 seconds as Nic White pounced to score, but then with Henry Slade rightly sin-binned for a knock-on, Saracens responded with 13 points. Itoje then found himself on the wrong side of Wayne Barnes' law and Exeter hit back with 12 points. The Chiefs had to tackle questions this week about playing a boring style of rugby. Boring? Behave. They are a quite brilliantly organised outfit. Exeter then struck after 58 minutes thanks to a beautiful score from Slade and suddenly it looked like the trophy might be heading back to Devon. But Saracens had other thoughts and closed the match out thanks to precision and power.
For Exeter, Jack Nowell was outstanding. He was a menace in attack for the Chiefs and England will now hold its collective breath that his second-half injury will not affect his Rugby World Cup prospects. He is a unique talent, as are Don Armand and Jonny Hill, who were both brilliant.
But it is the champions' protagonists who will always be best-remembered. George and George Kruis were brilliant, while Williams continues to defy gravity with his leaping aerobatics when dealing with high balls. Itoje was the official Man of the Match and he found his game in the final quarter, but George was the outstanding player on the field.
Exeter drew last blood with a consolation score, and though the players will be disconsolate and will lament those momentum-changing moments, they will be back next season.
The scary thing for the rest of the league? When the final whistle went and Saracens were cemented as champions, there were not really moments of unbridled exhilaration, but players strolling onto the field complete with beaming smiles. It was business as usual, a triumph now expected rather than a surprise. And they'll expect nothing less than the same next season.