Limerick Rugby
Don't Miss

Leinster are keen to beat the odds and lift fifth cup title

By Frank Quinn
THE first of a hectic two weeks for Leinster begins tomorrow afternoon in St James Park, Newcastle when they take on the giants of English rugby, Saracens in the final of this season’s Heineken European Champions Cup, 5.00pm. Leinster have named a strong side with Sean Cronin passed fit and a backline of Rob Kearney, Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw and Lowe in the back five and Jonathan Sexton (pictured) and Luke McGrath at half-back.
It is so tight that the betting is evens for both teams in this historic Ireland v England clash. Leinster, the holders and four times champions and Saracens has won two so this is a battle between the two best teams in Europe are in the final.
In the semi finals Saracens knocked out Munster and Leinster beat Toulouse, however tomorrow’s pairing have never opposed each other in the final.
In appraising both teams it is hard to separate them, even doing a head to head, and there are very few miss-matches.
Stuart Lancaster, 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. This week 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, you could write the script, but the difficulties clubs have is that they play it so well. They are patient and wait for their opportunities and penalty chances and with Owen Farrell in charge of the kicking tee, the points mount up. Sarries are very physical from one to fifteen and, make no mistake, they do have class, a pace that surprises many teams with Strettle, Barritt and Liam Williams in the back line, and they are high scorers.
Leinster is Leinster, with 12 current full Irish multi capped internationals to start, the exceptions are Lowe, Fardy and Luke McGrath at scrum half.
The champions 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. 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.
LEINSTER RUGBY: 15. Rob Kearney, 14. Jordan Larmour, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. James Lowe, 10. Johnny Sexton (c), 9. Luke McGrath, 1. Cian Healy, 2. Sean Cronin, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Devin Toner, 5. James Ryan, 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Sean O’Brien, 8. Jack Conan.
Replacements: 16. James Tracy, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Michael Bent, 19. Rhys Ruddock, 20. Max Deegan, 21. Hugh O’Sullivan, 22. Ross Byrne, 23. Rory O’Loughlin,
SARACENS: 15. Alex Goode, 14. Liam Williams, 13. Alex Lozowski, 12. Brad Barritt (c), 11. Sean Maitland, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Ben Spencer, 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Titi Lamositele, 4. Will Skelton, 5. George Kruis, 6. Maro Itoje, 7. Jackson Wray, 8. Billy Vunipola.
Replacements, 16. Joe Gray, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Nick Isiekwe, 20. Schalk Burger, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Nick Tompkins, 23. David Strettle. Replacements: 16. Joe Gray, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Nick Isiekwe, 20. Schalk Burger, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Nick
Referee: Jérome Garcès (France)
AR1: Romain Poite (France)
AR2: Pascal Gauzère (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
Broadcasters: BT Sport 2 / beIN SPORTS / FR2 / Channel 4 / Virgin MediaLEINSTER and Munster have named their matchday squads for tomorrow’s Heineken

You must be logged in to post a comment Login