Rugby

The British Media Reaction To Saracens Overpowering Leinster

The British Media Reaction To Saracens Overpowering Leinster

A game which would be decided by the odd mistake was the predicated narrative going into Saturday's Champions Cup final between Leinster and Saracens.

There were mistakes from both sides but what told, in the end, was the power of Saracens with and without the ball.

The English Premiership side prevailed 20-10 to claim their third European Cup in four seasons.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Stephen Jones hailed the influence of Saracens' Mark McCall while also having a dig at Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster, undoubtedly the "someone else" to whom he refers.

"Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, took no credit afterwards," writes Jones.

He gave it all to his players. Last season poor Leo Cullen, the Leinster head man, won the title and all the credit seemed to go to someone else. Odd life, coaching, and McCall is one of the best there has been.

One long run from Rob Kearney apart, the Leinster attack — or what passed for it — was remorselessly and relentlessly driven clean out of the occasion and the contest, by a defence led by Barritt, Liam Williams, Billy Vunipola, Jackson Wray and George Kruis, who made 28 tackles, leaving every Leinster aspiration in a blue heap out on St James’ Park. The tackling was murderous.

In The Telegraph, Richard Bath says that what Leinster lacked against Saracens was pure muscle.

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"Leinster have many qualities: physicality up front, dancing feet in midfield, a wonderful kicking game, pace to burn out wide, a blue-and-white army in the stands. They have lashings of experience, almost limitless reserves of patience, of heart. Yet what they lacked on Saturday was the raw power which Saracens could bring to bear.

"It was the deficit in raw muscle which eventually did for them, and nowhere was it more brutally and clearly illustrated than with 15 minutes to go when Billy Vunipola came off the back of a five-metre scrum on Leinster’s line."

Also for The Telegraph, Mick Cleary writes that though there are question marks regarding how Saracens operate off the pitch, there are few about them on it.

There are those who question the integrity of Saracens’ dealings in the transfer market but no one can doubt their iron will, their defensive steadfastness, their tight-knit esprit de corps, their skill as well as their savvy and the sense of a genuine brotherhood pulling together to make it happen.

This was a performance of rich character, of a club that has deep foundations and proper on-field values.

Paul Rees of The Guardian calls the final quarter of the game "a procession". Though Billy Vunipola did only score his crucial try in the 67th minute.

He also adds, "The try captured the match in a moment, power and persistence prevailing."

And that, "Leinster set out to thwart Saracens’ blitz defence by sniping around the fringes of the breakdown or attacking the blind-side but they struggled to recycle the ball quickly enough."

Finally, The Guardian's Robert Kitson, says Saturday's game, held at the home of Newcastle United, was a "grand occasion" for rugby.

"Periodically rugby can feel a little trivial, a good-humoured cousin to football that knows its place. No longer, on this evidence. St James’ Park has already tasted a bit of Rugby World Cup action and here was further proof, for those open-minded enough to give it a try, that the oval-ball game can stand on its own two feet anywhere without artificial gimmicks or cheap ticket giveaways."

Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

See Also: Sexton Explains Crucial Decision To Not Kick The Ball Out Before Half-Time