A competitive clash between two top quality teams is what you hope for out of a cup final and today thats certainly what we got. With St James Park bathing in sunlight two titans of rugby battled it out for the right to hoist the Champions Cup.
With both sides boasting plenty of size up front the game was likely to be physical and from the off it lived up to billing. An early penalty and a Tadhg Furlong pick and go following a Maro Itoje yellow card gave Leinster a 10-0 lead but with plenty of time remaining it felt far from decided.
Saracens responded with a penalty of their own and on the stroke of half time Owen Farrell kick to the corner and a few phases later more great play from Farrell set up Shaun Maitland in the corner for the score. Farrell converted and exhausting first half finished 10-10.
The second half was all about the defences with both sides holding firm under huge amounts of pressure. Great defence was helped by errors in attack with both sides phase play ending in turnovers. Big hit from the likes of George Kruis and Brad Barritt started to turn the momentum towards Saracens and when the always dangerous Billy Vunipola picked up at the back of the scrum he was to powerful to be stopped and reached over for another score.
20 more minutes of physical play ended with prop forward Vincent Koch sending a wobbly kick into touch to end the tie and give the victory to Saracens 20-10. This is Saracens third title in Europe and against a quality team like Leinster, who had never lost a final until today, will be very sweet indeed.
No shame in defeat for Leinster here. Could they have been more clinical, sure. Should they have looked to kick more against a blitzing Saracens line, maybe but ultimately they played their part in an breathless final and 1 to 23 can leave with their heads held high and their dignity intact….well almost everybody