By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) - Two late tries by winger Louis Lynagh ensured that Harlequins were crowned English Premiership champions for the first time in nine years on Saturday as they beat holders Exeter 40-38 in a Twickenham final full of superb tries.
Harlequins struck first with an early penalty try, only for Exeter's forwards to deliver their trademark tryline assault to earn tries for Jonny Gray and Alex Hepburn. Wilco Louw and Alex Dombrandt then crossed for Quins to have them 19-14 ahead at halftime.
Andre Esterhuizen stretched that advantage but Premiership player of the year Sam Simmonds, with his 21st try of the season, and Ollie Devoto forced Exeter, who won the domestic and European Cup double last season and were appearing in their sixth successive final, into a 28-26 lead, then extended to five points by a Joe Simmonds penalty.
Harlequins, who were flirting with relegation early in the season, refused to accept defeat, however, as young winger Lynagh scored two brilliant tries, both converted from the touchline by Marcus Smith, only for Stuart Hogg to hit back for the defending champions at the death.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Kevin Liffey)