Heavyweights of Europe prepare for battle

08/05/2019

The semi finals of the Guinness PRO14 are imminent in the second half of May and the final of the Heineken Cup takes place on Saturday May 11th in Newcastle’s - St. James Park between Leinster and Saracens.

It is so tight that the betting is evens for both teams in this historic Ireland V. England classic.

Leinster are the holders and four times champions and Saracens has won two, the two best teams in Europe are in the final of the 2019 Heineken Cup In the semi finals Saracens knocked out Munster and Leinster beat Toulouse, however they have never opposed each other in the final.

In appraising both teams - both have merit and indeed it is hard to separate them even doing a head to head - there are very few miss - matches.

Stuart Lancaster who is assistant coach at Leinster is confident his team can tame Saracens on the basis that he knows the Sarries players very well from his time with England.

He paid tribute to the coaching assistants Sanderson, Sorrell and Peel for their work without referencing Mark McCall, the director of rugby.

Everyone knows how Sarries play and could write the script, but the difficulties Clubs have is - that they play it so well, are patient and wait for their opportunities and penalty chances for Owen Farrell.

They are very physical from one to fifteen so nobody is safe with Saracens on the park. Make no mistake either they do have class and a quickness which surprises many teams with Strettle, Barritt and Liam Williams in the back line - they are high scorers.

Leinster is Leinster, with 12 current full Irish multi capped internationals to start - the exceptions probably are Lowe, Fardy and Luke McGrath at scrum half. It’s the Final, - they are the champions and must play like champions.

No hangovers from the 6N’s - forget it - it never happened, and definitely a step up on the Toulouse game as the current French table toppers were loose whereas Mark McCall’s men are real mean full professionals.

This is a big squad effort from Leo Cullen, and good squads stay on the scene for a number of years at full belt in every sport and reap the rewards of Cups and medals.

We do need to see a big-ish score, to outpoint the opposition so the Leinster backs need to step up and score tries against a very tight opposition. James Lowe‘s inclusion on the wing will bring that bit of bite to the blues, he is a prolific try scorer in very tight plays.

You have to score to beat Saracens who play for the full eighty minutes and who are used to winning like Leinster. Stick with Leinster. The teams will be issued later in the week but it looks like a full deck to choose from for each club even after a long and difficult season