Imagine Rugby Blogs

Tigers and Sarries Set to Collide in Twickenham Final

Premiership top 2 to do battle

Posted May 25, 2011 by Chris White

Tigers won last year in a thrilling finale

Leicester Tigers must do something they haven’t managed to do all season if they are to claim their 8th Premiership title and 10th English league title – beat Saracens.

The top two from the league this season clash at Twickenham on Saturday in a repeat of last season’s final, which Leicester won in a thrilling 33-27 clash. Tigers are involved in their seventh successive Premiership final, but have come out second best to Sarries in both matches this season. Saracens have never won an English league title and have only one trophy in their cabinet – the 1998 Tetley’s Bitter Cup, so the incentives are certainly there for both sides.

Saracens won the first match between the two sides at Vicarage Road back in October, 26-20, and took a thrilling 15-14 win from Welford Road in March. The London side have won eleven successive matches, and one more will give them the Premiership title.

A 12-10 victory against Gloucester booked Sarries’ place at Twickenham, while Leicester beat rivals Northampton 11-3 at Welford Road.

Leicester will be missing Manu Tuilagi for the final, however, after the RFU handed out a 5-week ban for his punch on Saints’ winger Chris Ashton in the semi final. Matt Smith is likely to move from the wing to the centre, replacing the suspended Tuilagi, which would see Horacio Agulla play on the wing, but Billy Twelvetrees and Dan Hipkiss are also pushing for the position in the centre. Lock Louis Deacon is expected to play at Twickenham after missing the semi-final with an Achilles injury, but coach Richard Cockerill says Deacon has trained well this week and is in contention to play.

Saracens face a tough decision over who will claim the number 9 shirt, with both Richard Wigglesworth and Neil de Kock fighting for the scrum half position. Boss Mark McCall said that before the semi-final, they would toss a coin to see who started the match because of the quality of the two players, and McCall will not change his policy ahead of the final. "We're very fortunate we've got two world class scrum-halves who have rotated evenly throughout the year. They'll both contribute in the final, they're evenly matched and we don't have a number one and we weren't going to change that policy for the final," he said. Wigglesworth got the starting birth against Gloucester, playing 59 minutes before being replaced by de Kock.

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