Heineken Cup Final Preview: Head-to-Head Ratings

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No.SaracensRatingToulonRating
1.Mako Vunipola – Question marks over his scrummaging, but will look to make a valuable contribution in the loose.6.5Xavier Chiocci – A promising young prop with good set piece technique who has made a good impression this season.6
2.Schalk Brits – Another superlative season from the free-running hooker. A danger in the loose and solid in the tight.9Craig Burden – Has filled a problem area well for Toulon, but will be overshadowed by his compatriot here.7
3.Matt Stevens – Keeping James Johnstone out of the team so must be doing something right. Solid, dependable.6Carl Hayman – Has a never-ending appetite for the scrum and will look to tear into Mako Vunipola from the word go.7
4.Steve Borthwick (c) – His value lies in the way he galvanises his team. Motivates them to higher levels, and is a key component at set-piece.8.5Bakkies Botha – Hard-hitting, hard-carrying South African enforcer. Oozes physicality from every pore.8
5.Alistair Hargreaves – Loves to carry the ball and will be relishing the chance to go head-to-head with two of his compatriots.7Danie Roussouw – Forms a brutally physical partnership with Botha. Completes an immensely powerful front five.7.5
6.Kelly Brown – Playing some of the best rugby of his career. Tackles everything, carries well and has developed a try-scoring knack.8Juan Smith – Proved his worth with a brilliant cameo against Leinster in QF. A winners’ medal would complete a remarkable recovery.8
7.Jacques Burger – Put in one of the most astonishing defensive performances ever seen in SF. Leader of the wolfpack.9Juan Fernandez Lobbe – Uncompromising Argentinian who does everything you could ask of the modern back-rower – tackles, carries and is a nuisance at breakdown.8.5
8.Billy Vunipola – Keeps getting better. One of the most powerful carriers around, and improved fitness will be vital for this game.8.5Steffon Armitage – Probably the player of the tournament. Styled into a no.8, but chief breakdown expert for Toulon. Powerful carrier, too.9
9.Richard Wigglesworth – Value lies in tactical nous and box-kicking ability. Doesn’t offer much running threat.6.5Seb Tillous-Borde – Another veteran of last year’s final, and has formed a strong partnership with his captain this season.6
10.Owen Farrell – Has added a lot to his game besides kicking, although that is generally excellent too. Will have to get his backline firing.8Jonny Wilkinson (c) – If the rugby gods have their way one of the greatest ever players will sign off with two more trophies. Still churning out high class performances.9
11.Dave Strettle – A fine finisher who has had a fine season. If he gets a sniff of the try line, he’ll cross it.7.5Bryan Habana – The world class South African is starting to look at home on the south coast of France, and showed how dangerous he is against Munster.8.5
12.Brad Barritt – Key member of the wolfpack and defensive general in the midfield. Popped up with a rare try last weekend, too.7Matt Giteau – Seems to ooze class in everything he does. Not afraid to step into first receiver to provide more creativity if it is needed.8.5
13.Marcelo Bosch – The Argentinian took time to settle but has started to show his true class in recent weeks. Massive boot from the tee, too.8Mathieu Bastareaud – Will either go missing or have a stormer. Rarely does anything in between.8
14.Chris Ashton – This season’s top try-scorer has hit fantastic form at the right time. Tracks the ball well, but needs to cut petulant side to his game.8Drew Mitchell – A solid, experienced option on the wing. Won’t do much wrong and still knows his way to the try line.7.5
15.Alex Goode – A key creative element in the Saracens backline, expect to see Goode join the line often to kickstart attacking moves.8Delon Armitage – Solid under the high ball and very quick when he gets going. Will relish the chance to play against English adversaries.8
TOTAL115.5116.5

Prediction

As the above shows, there is so little to choose between the two teams on paper. Both have been excellent in getting here, although Sarries made things more difficult form themselves than it should have been by losing both pool games to Toulon’s rivals Toulouse. If they defend as they did against Clermont, they will stand an excellent chance, but you sense that there is more to this Toulon team than the Jaunards – they have an extra smattering of stardust as well as the intelligence to vary their game when Plan A isn’t working. Saracens will be hungry for their first ever Heineken Cup silverware, but Toulon have the experience of having been here and done it last season. I’m going to stick with the above, and say Toulon just have the class to edge it. Toulon by 2.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

2 thoughts on “Heineken Cup Final Preview: Head-to-Head Ratings

  1. You’ve overscored Stevens by at least 3. He is utterly dreadful and I’ve no idea what McCall sees in him. He’s a useless fat lump who is more of a benefit to his opposition than his own team. Dreadful player.

    1. a dreadful player who made “the beast” look like a pussy cat for 80 minutes earlier this season……

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