Thursday 26 May 2016 2:32 pm

Saracens v Exeter Chiefs preview: Four things to look out for including Henry Slade's big test and Chris Ashton's try target in Aviva Premiership final

The Aviva Premiership's first and second best teams, Saracens and Exeter Chiefs go head-to-head at Twickenham for the league's ultimate crown on Saturday afternoon.

We pick out four things to look for in the final:

Will big match experience count for Saracens?

Newly-crowned European champions and league leaders Saracens are well acclimatised to the high-pressure surrounds of a major final with Saturday's game marking their fifth appearance in the Premiership final since 2010.

Such intensity is a novel experience for Exeter, however, and history does not suggest that newbies deal with the occasion well. Only two of eight first-time finalists since 2003, Sale Sharks in 2006 and Harlequins in 2012, have ever triumphed in their Premiership final debut. Saracens themselves had to first taste defeat in 2010 before lifting the trophy for the first time a year later.

More encouragingly for Exeter, who finished second in the Premiership table, the league's second-best regular season team has triumphed against the top of the pile side in the final five times before.

Read more: Owen Farrell demands Saracens seal double after ending wait for European glory

Can Henry Slade do it on the biggest stage?


Slade is already back to his best for Exeter following a leg break in (Source: Getty)

Henry Slade has long been tipped as England's future at inside centre, yet the skilled back has yet to truly demonstrate his worth to the Red Rose after breaking his leg in December and missing the Six Nations.

Following a return to fitness and form earlier than anticipated, the dynamic 23-year-old can demonstrate to Eddie Jones he is ready to star on England's tour of Australia with a big performance on the biggest stage of his career to date.

How will Chris Ashton respond to England omission? 


Ashton has turned down a place with England Saxons after missing out on England's tour to Australia (Source: Getty)

If Chris Ashton can shrug off the disappointment of missing out on an England call-up he can prove the ultimate point by becoming the Premiership's top try scorer with a brace of tries, something he managed in the semi-final to take his tally for the season to 11.

Lining up against him will be Jack Nowell, a favourite of Eddie Jones on the England wing, providing Ashton with the opportunity to further underline his case.

Can Chiefs cope without Thomas Waldrom?

"Thomas the Tank" as he is nicknamed in Exeter, will be a huge loss for the Chiefs after he was ruled out with a knee ligament injury. Waldrom has been instrumental for the Chiefs this season, topping the Premiership try-scoring charts with 12, and working through Sarries' rabid defensive line — only Northampton Saints conceded fewer tries throughout the regular season — will be that much harder without his power and experience.

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