The Gallagher Premiership season finally ends on Saturday, as the best two teams lock horns at Twickenham to decide who will lift the trophy.
This contest between Exeter and Saracens has been on the cards since before Christmas, such is the gulf between them and the rest of the teams in the league.
Someone said to me the other day that we could have ‘saved a lot of huffing and puffing’ and played this match earlier in the year. I agree to an extent – whilst there have been plenty of exciting matches, some outstanding tries and sublime skills at times, there has not been much of a contest at the top of the table.
And actually, this is where the playoff system falls down. If it were a straight shootout for the league, as per football’s Premier League, we could have been treated to an epic title race not dissimilar to Man City and Liverpool this season.
As it is, Exeter and Sarries have known for some time that it will all come down to tomorrow’s match, and have been able to rest players for various league matches along the way, and to me, this final has been a long time coming.
As to who will win, it’s a bit of a lottery between two evenly-matched sides over the course of a single match, and as per the the Champions Cup final, it could come down to a moment of brilliance, the bounce of the ball, or a referees decision.
As European Champions, Saracens have to start as favourites, particularly with the way they have been defending this season. They gave Leinster absolutely nothing in the final stages of the European final, closing down space and leaving them unable to create anything. They were also mightily impressive against Gloucester in the semi-final, dictating play and the game never really looked like a contest.
Exeter will have been analysing the tapes of those performances, looking for chinks in the Saracens armour, but I can’t see many. Perhaps they’ll look to kick in behind Saracens, chase hard and apply their own pressure in defence, but frankly I don’t think whatever they do will work.
My Superbru prediction: Saracens by 7
How do you think the game will go?
Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James
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Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Hepburn, Francis, Skinner, S. Simmonds, Maunder, Steenson, Hill.
Goode; Williams, Lozowski, Barritt (capt), Maitland; Farrell, Spencer; Barrington, George, Koch, Skelton, Kruis, Itoje, Wray, B. Vunipola.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Adams-Hale, Judge, Isiekwe, Rhodes, Wigglesworth, Tompkins, Strettle.