Lovell Rugby’s Heineken Cup Final Preview
The final of the 2013/14 Heineken Cup comes to Cardiff this Saturday, with Mourad Boudjellal’s galácticos from Toulon taking on free-scoring Saracens. Both teams are filled with experienced internationals but it will be two former England captains taking centre stage. Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Borthwick will be in European action for the last time and there is no doubt that both will be doing all that they can for victory.
Both teams have the chance of a domestic/European double with their respective league finals being played next weekend but for now their sole focus will be on the Heineken Cup trophy. With the roof closed and no home advantage to be had, it is hard to call who will be celebrating at the full time whistle. Individual battles between the likes of Steffon Armitage v Billy Vunipola and Matt Giteau v Brad Barritt could play a big part in the deciding the outcome on Saturday evening.
Toulon v Saracens (Saturday 24th May, 5:00pm GMT)
Toulon XV - Delon Armitage, Drew Mitchell, Mathieu Bastareaud, Matt Giteau, Bryan Habana, Jonny Wilkinson, Sebastien Tillous Borde, Steffon Armitage, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Smith, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Carl Hayman, Craig Burden, Xavier Chiocci
Saracens XV - Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt, David Strettle, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Billy Vunipola, Jacques Burger, Kelly Brown, Alistair Hargreaves, Steve Borthwick, Matt Stevens, Schalk Brits, Mako Vunipola
The reigning Champions head to the Millennium Stadium looking to repeat last seasons European success. A try from full-back Dylon Armitage and 11 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson were enough to see off Clermont Auveregne in Dublin. Wilkinson has accumulated more points than any other player this time around and will be looking to add to that in his Heineken Cup farewell. Toulon‘s starting line-up includes a host of seasoned internationals such as Bryan Habana, Juan Smith and Carl Hayman.
Saturday will be the first time that Saracens have featured in a Heineken Cup final and on the way that they have performed so far in this seasons competition, it would be no surprise if they came away victorious. They are the leading points scorers with 280 and have scored an impressive 38 tries. 11 of these are from the tournaments top try scorer Chris Ashton who will surely be looking for a 12th in Cardiff. Richard Wigglesworth takes over from Neil de Kock at scrum-half whilst Alistair Hargreaves starts ahead of Mouritz Botha.
LR Prediction: Toulon 30 – 21 Saracens
Look out for: Billy Vunipola - The England number 8 has made 91 carries in the competition this season competition and Toulon will be fully aware of the damage that he can cause in attack. At scrum time, the likes of Smith and Lobbe will need to make sure that when Vunipola carries he is taken down early as we all know how much he loves to make metres and break tackles.