Lovell Rugby’s Aviva Premiership Final Preview
Twickenham plays host to the Aviva Premiership Final on Saturday and both teams will feel like they have something to prove. Saracens will be looking to make amends for last weekends defeat to Toulon in the Heineken Cup Final whilst Northampton Saints will want to go one better than last season, after losing to the Leicester Tigers in the final.
Having finished first and second respectively in the league, on paper both teams deserve to be in the final.
Saracens have big ball carriers in the likes of Vunipola, Brits and Barritt. Northampton possess the speed and skill of Foden, North and Wood. We’re surely in for a treat on Saturday. With the international summer tests just around the corner and places in the starting XV still up for grabs, expect to see a number of players go all out at the home of English rugby.
Saracens v Northampton Saints (Saturday 31st May, 3:00pm GMT)
Saracens XV - Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt, David Strettle, Owen Farrell, Neil de Kock, Billy Vunipola, Jacques Burger, Kelly Brown, Mouritz Botha, Steve Borthwick, Matt Stevens, Schalk Brits, Richard Barrington
Northampton Saints XV - Ben Foden, Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Luther Burrell, George North, Stephen Myler, Kahn Fotuali’i, Sam Dickinson, Tom Wood, Calum Clark, Courtney Lawes, Samu Manoa, Salesi Ma’afu, Mike Haywood, Alex Corbisiero
After last weekend’s Heineken Cup final defeat, we would expect Saracens to come out all guns blazing at Twickenham. Their last appearance in a Premiership final was back in 2011 when they defeated the Leicester Tigers and will be looking for a repeat performance this weekend. Fly half Owen Farrell is a regular at Twickenham and should have no trouble keeping the scoreboard ticking over when given the opportunity. Steve Borthwick and Matt Stevens will both be saying goodbye to the black and red shirt after the match and will surely be looking to go out on a high. Unfortunately Mako Vunipola misses out due to injury and now looks set to miss England’s tour to New Zealand.
Still on a high from their Amlin Challenge Cup win, the Saints go into the match with plenty of momentum. They haven’t lost since their visit to the Allianz Park in mid April and have been running in the 5 pointers for fun with 19 tries in 4 Premiership matches. If there is one player that will be looking to make up for their own mistakes then it is the returning Dylan Hartley. His red card at Twickenham last year played a major part in the result and his impact from the bench on Saturday could do the same. Kahn Fotuali’i wears the number nine shirt, swapping places with Lee Dickson, with Salesi Ma’afu returning to the front row.
LR Prediction: Saracens 33 – 17 Northampton Saints
Look out for: Courtney Lawes – It is impossible to forget the bone crunching hits that the England second row put in against Leicester in last season’s final and Sarries will not want him doing the same to them this time around. Apart from his tackling, Lawes line-out work has improved significantly in both attack and defence over the last 12 months so don’t be surprised to see the 25 year old at the heart of everything.