Premiership: Five takeaways from the final as Leicester win an 11th league title

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Following a 15-12 victory for Leicester Tigers over Saracens in the Premiership final, here’s our five takeaways from the match at Twickenham on Saturday.

Tables turned

Not many gave Leicester Tigers a chance this weekend.

Up against a pack with five World Cup finalists, a backline that glittered from 10 to 15 and against a team with one of the best track records of closing out big games, the writing on the wall was larger than life and the task that faced them something akin to vertical.

But no. This Tigers team are something special, with a backbone of steel galvanised by Steve Borthwick, a structure of simplicity and committed execution.

Leicester have spent the entire season on top of the league as champions-elect. Tonight, they’re champions for real, as the journey they started two years ago finally came to an end.

Culture

There’s a lot spoken in rugby about culture. Players talk about making their own, creating moments and so on, but some clubs have a culture that is organic, unforced and entirely real, one based upon history, heritage and heroes.

Leicester Tigers are exactly that club, a city that expects success, with supporters that crave silverware and a group of players that know that to be judged as a true Tiger you can be nothing other than a champion. Today, they realised that nothing other than a victory was acceptable and their implementation of the simplest of game plans, that of aerial and territorial domination, was exemplary.

Head coach Borthwick has spent the last three weekends talking in grounded and focused terms; words such as simple, basic and honest proliferate his press conferences. Yet, when you speak with him, you’re left under no misapprehension of his immense attention to detail and it was that pinpoint focus on the simple things that matter that saw Tigers succeed today and tonight, Borthwick will go home a happy man.

Domination of simplicity

It’s rare to see Saracens beaten in every facet of the very qualities that define them. In the aerial battle, Freddie Steward reigned supreme and dominated almost every kick Sarries hoofed in his direction, to the point that his returns caused so many problems the men in black sought the sanctuary of touch.

At the breakdown, Julian Montoya and Tommy Reffell had a field day, with the Los Pumas hooker arguably the most influential player on the pitch as he carried, harried and jackalled. His lineout too was peerless, neutering the brilliance of Maro Itoje and Nick Isiekwe with some exquisite throwing which led to some crippling maul drives, one which resulted in a try for Hanro Liebenberg.

But it was the way Tigers closed Saracens out of their own 22 which was the real match winning tactic. With only seven passes completed from Sarries in the red zone and less than two minutes spent in that area of the field, they had such little opportunity to get points. Even they became frustrated and at no time, other than one run from Andy Christie at the end, did they ever look capable of breaking the shackles of Tigers.

In the very end, Freddie Burns, a man that’s fast becoming Tigers’ very own ‘supersub’, benefited from some intelligent and clever driving up of the ball for position. His drop-goal might not win many prizes for artistic merit, but who cares when it’s just won him a Premiership title.

Saracens wither

With all the glitterati within the Saracens ranks, for them to fail at the final hurdle without really firing a shot will be the thing that hurts them most of all. Their pack was beaten and bruised in almost every aspect of the match, with their stars failing to shine and anchors dragged on a tide of green and red.

Other than the absolutely outstanding Billy Vunipola, to see five World Cup finalists in the pack and a host of rugby gentry outside them struggle so comprehensively is mystifying. At scrum-half, Aled Davies couldn’t cope with the incredible pressure 39-year-old Richard Wigglesworth put upon him and his accuracy and speed were destroyed by the desire of his opponent. At 10, Owen Farrell tried manfully to play flat and hit the line in attack, but without any supporting runners of size around him, the end result was always lateral and rarely forward.

Mark McCall may have said publicly after the match that this was part of their journey and so on, but the way the former champions withered in the heat and noise of Twickenham was a concern. It is something that he will need to address very quickly if the London club are going to return to the winners podium in the near future.

Premiership Rugby

Lastly, a shoutout for the competition host, Premiership Rugby. With 73,000 attending the game and with deafening support – most of it from the neutrals – for Leicester Tigers, this was an event that was a true cup final.

From the moment the teams ran out onto the pitch though the smoke and firecrackers, to the end presentation, the event was flawless, good natured and professional off pitch, with Wayne Barnes putting in a commanding performance with the whistle.

Simon Massie-Taylor spoke to Planet Rugby last week saying that he knows there are tough times ahead and that the next four years will be largely a reset.

However, he also alluded to his personal vision of making the Premiership final an integral part of the English sporting calendar and, based upon today, his team made a giant stride this weekend to realising that ambition.

READ MORE: Freddie Burns the hero as Leicester Tigers beat Saracens to claim first title since 2013

The article Premiership: Five takeaways from the final as Leicester win an 11th league title appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting