Champions Cup Final: Leinster v Saracens Preview

ERCC: Outright Preview 2018 -2019 Season

The result of Saturday’s titanic European Champions Cup final between Leinster and Saracens will boil down to whichever side dominates the collisions, as well as the game-management of flyhalves Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell, writes Shaun Goosen.

Leinster v Saracens
11 May 18h00
St James’ Park

To Win (80 mins)
Leinster 9/10
Draw 20/1
Saracens 9/10

It’s hard to remember a more anticipated final than this weekend’s title decider at St James’ Park in Newcastle. Both Leinster and Saracens have been far and away the most dominant forces in Europe this campaign, with both outfits still in contention for respective season doubles.

Leo Cullen’s men will be looking to pull off the spectacular in defending both their European and Pro14 crowns in the coming weeks. Theirs is a squad boasting arguably the most frightening depth in the northern hemisphere and will certainly go down as one of the Great Champions Cup teams if they manage to go back-to-back this weekend.

Two-time winners Saracens, meanwhile, have the chance to reclaim the title they last won at Murrayfield in 2017, before going on to defend their Premiership crown in the tournament’s semi-finals in a fortnight.

It was Leinster who denied them a shot at winning two Champions Cup titles in a row last term when they were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition’s quarter-finals in a 30-19 loss in Dublin. Now, they have a chance at redemption.

Each of the mini battles around the park on Saturday will be match-defining, with British Lions front row duo Tadhg Furlong and Mako Vunipola’s scrummaging contest set to be titanic.

With rain more than likely, the set-pieces will be crucial to the outcome of the game. Clean ball will be key to both sides’ games and it will be up to the likes of the heavymen to lay the foundation for their backs.

The flyhalf contest may even trump the scrum battle for sheer significance, with the performances of Sexton and Farrell, particularly in the wet, sure to have a massive bearing on Saturday’s outcome.

Both men will look to play footy deep inside opposition territory to put themselves in good positions for potential penalty opportunities. Depending on the conditions, the match may well come down to a battle of attrition with discipline and three-pointers the order of the day.

The fact that both teams have seen and done it all before makes this an even tougher one to call. Playing in England may give Saracens a slight edge, while their mobile tight-five could just be the key to victory for them.
Verdict: Saracens by six-points.

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