Key battles that could decide Exeter vs Harlequins Premiership Final

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

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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

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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

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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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