Saracens complete clean sweep to lift Champions Cup

Billy Vunipola

Saracens edged past Leinster in the Champions Cup final on Saturday, as the two European heavyweights slugged it out in a match full of brutal collisions.

The two sides have dominated the European stage, and Saracens – with no fewer than 11 England-qualified players in their starting lineup – clinched their third title in four years, completing a clean sweep of victories in the competition.

Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell were particularly outstanding, whilst Alex Goode was named European Player of the Year, adding to the armoury of those that continue to question his omission from the England setup.

And speaking of England, this victory could be seen a further psychological blow for England over Ireland, backing up the national team’s victory in Dublin, and should these two teams meet in Japan in the Rugby World Cup, England may just have the mental edge. The physical dominance of Saracens is surely how England will be looking to play for the most part, tireless in defence and powerful in every carry.

Big Billy departed shortly before the end raising further injury concerns, and Maro Itoje was sin-binned to remind us all of his potential to be a liability as well as a match-winner.

The decision by Leinster, 10-3 up at the time, to keep the ball in play as the clock turned red for half-time may be one that haunts the Irish players in particular – they duly conceded a try and went back to the sheds at 10-10. But indeed every decision can be questioned in hindsight, and some will always turn out to be mistakes, whilst others hailed as moments of genius.

There were one or two other controversial moments, and not everyone is over the moon at Saracens’ victory, but their place seems secure at the top of European Rugby.

What did you think of the game?

16 thoughts on “Saracens complete clean sweep to lift Champions Cup

  1. As a Sarries fan I am of course over the moon. It was a hard fought contest, but the desire to win each collision with more menace than the opposition is what won us the game. Big hits from Lozowski, Kruis and George were critical in stopping Leinster from getting the upper hand. The tiresome work of Barritt and Wray giving way for big carriers like Billy and Skelton to make hard yards and spread the Leinster defence. Liam Williams turnover is a classic example of the hunger shown by the whole team to lift the trophy.
    Whatever you think of Sarries, they were the better team on the day and deserved to win.

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    1. Agreed Dazza. Thoroughly enjoyable game with more than enough to keep this neutral watching for the full 80.
      Lozowski defended like a man three stone heavier, Farrell’s flip pass was thing of beauty, Kruis must have trod on every blade of grass and Billy found redemption! Leinster are top class but Sarries always had them on the back foot. Superb Stuff.

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  2. Dazza, I didn’t manage to see the game but I heard Lozowski played very well. Can you elaborate? Where would you have him compared to Slade and Joseph?

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    1. He is a very different player to Slade and Joseph. He’s much more physical in defence. Some big hits in defence, but he also showed some great feet in attack a couple of times. He’s not short of straight out pace either and I would have in my England squad ahead of Joseph at the moment. His ability to slot in at other positions could be key if we got two or three injuries in the back line.
      He’s played at 10, 12, 13 14 & 15 this season for Sarries, and each time he’s shown some class.

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  3. Lozowski most noticeable contribution was his defence, or more importantly his ability to win collisions that at times really stifled Leinsters momemtum. I can’t talk in depth as to how effective he was in terms of the collective defence. Didnt get to see many flashes of his playmaking ability but it was a final after all.

    Im very interested to see where his final position is, Daly is moving to Saracens to play 13. Sarries seemed to prefer goode at 10 than Loz, and it seems to me that Malins is being lined up as the reserve 10.

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    1. I hope he figures in Ed’s pre World Cup squads. On that showing he could force his way in to the 31 for Japan.

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    2. James, I see him continuing at 12/13. Bosch is leaving and Taylor is never fit, so Daly will most likely be playing 13 alongside Barritt. But I can also see him playing on the wing, and at 15. Rotating players to keep them fit means you need versatility and both Loz and Daly have that. As well as Goode, Malins and Williams.
      I also wonder if Barritt is thinking about winding down? He’s had some pretty nasty injuries (particularly to his face)!

      1. Yeah I agree about him staying in the centres, I can’t help feeling whislt Barritt is in the squad, loz wont be in saracens first XV, i also think Tompkins will fill the 12 role or is certainly be a part of the post Barritt era, i couldn’t help feeling sorry for the Saracens reserves who didnt get on the pitch. Strettle aside who looked pretty happy to have another medal.
        In terms of England and the world cup squad hes certainly in the mix for the 31. Perhaps the rugby blog could start a discussion on preliminary england squads. I think Watson coming back to fitness may push Daly back to competing with slade, joseph for the 13 shirt. Eddie will take and start one of Teo or Tulagi at the WC. Not sure if he has the space in the squad for both,

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        1. I really hope Eddie looks beyond Tuilagi and T’eo for the 12 birth. Both of them are very injury prone. More so than a lot of the other options. Guys like Devoto, Lozowski and Marchant can do a job at 12 as well as 13. I’m surprised Tuilagi has made it to the end of the season without getting injured again to be honest.

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          1. For this world cup cycle i very much expect to see one of if not both teo and tuilagi. Im not saying this is what i want to see, just probability based on eddies picks. Devoto hasn’t really played undefr eddie, very early call up aside. Joseph has the edge over merchant atm. I think jones may want to bring watson in at 15. Move daly to 13 and may on the wing. Nowell and big Joe to take the other wing spot.

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        2. Second the call to discuss England Training/World Cup squad! My 23:

          1. Mako
          2. George
          3. Sinckler
          4. Itoje
          5. Kruis
          6. Lawes
          7. Curry
          8. Billy
          9. Spencer
          10. Farrell
          11. May
          12. Tuilagi
          13. Daly
          14. Cokanasiga
          15. Brown

          16. Hartley
          17. Genge
          18. Cole
          19. Launchbury
          20. Wilson
          21. Youngs
          22. Ford
          23. Watson

          England aren’t going to suddenly start playing like the All Blacks, so I believe that we should stick to the Saracens model. I think Lawes is too good not to start, and Skelton has taken on carrying responsibilities allowing Billy to roam more. With Tuilagi and Cokanasiga in the back line I believe that we can physically dominate teams. I do wonder though if there is enough playmaking ability in that backline, as Farrell definitely benefits from Goode at fullback, although I don’t really rate Slade.

  4. I thought it was a fantastic game. Saracens were brilliant and by far the better team. Kruis was my man of the match but so many Saracens stood up. Lozowski, George, Williams and Wray were all immense. I don’t think anyone had a quiet game. I was really impressed with the Saracens bench too. The replacement props were fantastic and there was no real change in the quality at all.

    I thought Leinsters best player was Fardy and it was telling how they struggled when he was in the bin.

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  5. Saracens defence was better than Leinster’s attack. Stats were even-ish, so the tosh about Saracens being the far better team is just that. The somewhat morally dubious Walsh of the S TImes expressed similar sentiments, also stating that Saracens overcame Leinster’s 13 internationals. Of course he omitted the fact that Saracens had 14. And again, suddenly Farrell is top-Ho for throwing the only thing he could have done in finding the unmarked Maitland, for the score. Barnes reckoned OF was mostly anonymous, but @ the same time vital to his team. Eh? Likewise Billy, after previously having had the last laugh over the boo boys for his condoning of Folau’s homophobic rhetoric, by dint of his acrobatic intercept & try @ the death. Pity he couldn’t have done the same in SA, v Wales or the Jocks. Anyway, a mostly R1 arm wrestle, kick & bosh Fest of a game to suit the home palate. Still Saracens won’t give a damn.. unless they get busted for fiscal impropriety of course, then they might. Meantime, roll on the WC blue print?

    1. I think your getting too caught up about what the pundits say, they constantly contradict themselves and you only have to compare player ratings from journo to journo to see how inconsistency there is. Only sarries and Leinster will really know how well they’re players performed.

      I didnt think Farrell was anonymous, a few of his trademark risque but powerful tackles, his quick hands to Maitland was well executed and i feel Faz is due a a fair bit of credit.

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      1. Don’t think so. I only mention the journo’s for not only their (contradictory) takes, but for how they over hype the likes of Billy & Farrell. 1 game, albeit important enough domestically & this pair’s relatively recent previous international anonymity & maladroitness is glossed over in a wave of euphoric semi hero worship & self congratulation. They had effective & reasonable games respectively, but W beaters they ain ‘t yet. Stats reffed to were regds territory, possession, yds made, tackles, breaks, scrums, lineouts etc, not player ratings.

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