Sports

Steenson holds his nerve

Thursday, 1 June 2017

WITH just seconds left on the clock Gareth Steenson could perhaps have been forgiven for thinking it was now or never in Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

The Exeter Chiefs forced a penalty kick from a fantastic drive forward from a scrum and Killylea native and former Royal School Armagh star Gareth Steenson stepped up, held his nerve and fired over what probably was the most important kick of his career to secure a 23-20 win for Rob Baxter's side.

That goal-winning kick came one year after the Chiefs were defeated by Saracens and they finally put to bed the demons of 2016 and won their first ever English Premiership title.

Last Saturday's clash between the Chiefs and Wasps was an absorbing encounter and neither of the sides could separated after 80 gruelling minutes of rugby at the home of English rugby.

The Devon outfit went close in the ten minutes of extra-time on several occasions, but with just three minutes left, Steenson wrote his name in the history books as he pushed the Chiefs in front and secured their first ever Aviva Premiership title.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Steenson said that just before he stepped up to strike the winning penalty, revealed that he said a prayer to his late father John before striking the ball.

“I said a prayer to my old man upstairs and he helped me with that last one!"

Steenson, who has been granted a testimonial year by the club next season, said that they had to dig deep to secure the win against a talented Wasps side.

“We had to go through the highs and lows of the game and we always back ourselves as a fit team anyway.

“Just before half time was a bad time to let Wasps score and then after half time, you're thinking it could be a tough day.

“We knew what our strengths were, so we knuckled down, our carrying game is good so we knew we could dent them.

“We stuck at them for the whole 80 minutes and to score when we did at the end, probably mentally hurt them a little bit and we probably dominated them a little bit in extra time."

Steenson started his journey with the Chiefs back in 2008, just one year after his father sadly passed away and he has helped them climb from mid-table in the Championship to the pinnacle of English rugby.

“There are a lot of people who've worked hard who have grafted to get into the Premiership and to see the amount of support we had today was unbelievable.

“The graft we've put in from the top down it's for days like today (Saturday)."

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