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European heavyweights Leinster Rugby and Saracens look set for a blockbuster clash in the Heineken Champions Cup final at St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday (17:00 BST).
The Irish province are chasing a record-breaking fifth European crown, while Saracens will be looking to get their hands on the trophy for a third time in four seasons.
The English club claimed a place in the showpiece final with a 32-16 semi-final win over Munster Rugby in Coventry, while Leinster swept aside fellow four-time winners Toulouse 30-12 in Dublin.
You can watch live, free-to-air coverage on Channel 4 and Virgin Media, and there is further live coverage on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS and FR2.
Leinster Rugby: 1st, Pool 1, 25 points
Saracens: 1st, Pool 3, 28 points
Leinster Rugby wins: 3
Saracens wins: 0
2018/19 top points-scorers
Leinster Rugby: Johnny Sexton (48), Ross Byrne (45), Sean Cronin (30)
Saracens: Owen Farrell (79), Alex Lozowski (25), Ben Spencer (24)
- Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby): “For us, we’re just cherishing it. It’s almost going to be like an international game in ways, so we’ll need our full support behind us.
- “You can’t underestimate the support we’ve had throughout the year and the years gone by. It’s definitely helped, so we’ll need them in full voice this weekend.”
- Owen Farrell (Saracens): “When you look back at all these big clubs and they’ve got all those stars by their name, you look at it in admiration and think ‘what a club’.
- “We’ve done pretty well over the past few years, but we’re still pretty new to it, so we want to keep that going and not take it for granted that we’ve been in a few finals. We want to make sure we make the most out of each opportunity we get and we’ve put ourselves in a good position this year.”
ONE DAY LEFT TO VOTE FOR #EPOTY2019 ⚠️
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 10, 2019
- Leinster name joint leading try-scorer Sean Cronin in the starting XV alongside Cian Healy and fellow EPCR European Player of the Year nominee Tadhg Furlong.
- Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has the luxury of naming an unchanged side from the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final victory over Toulouse, with fly-half Johnny Sexton captaining the side, while Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw offer up a power-packed midfield.
- Jordan Larmour will seek to assert his authority on the continental stage and add to his two Heineken Champions Cup tries on the right flank, while James Lowe – who missed the 2018 final win in Bilbao – will take the No.11 jersey.
- Saracens have made two changes from the side that beat Munster in the semi-finals, with back-row Mike Rhodes – who scored the opening try in last four clash – missing out. Maro Itoje and Jackson Wray will don the No.6 and 7 jerseys respectively.
- Leading Heineken Champions Cup points scorer Owen Farrell, with a tally of 79 to date, will be pulling the strings for Saracens, while full-back Alex Goode – who has played every minute of this season’s campaign – will bring the attacking threat alongside wings Liam Williams and Sean Maitland.
"It’s almost going to be like an international game" @henshawrob💬
Who has MORE X-factor? 🔥
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 9, 2019
- Leinster are unbeaten in three European Cup matches against Saracens, with their last victory coming in the 2017/18 quarter-finals, when they beat the English side 30-19 in Dublin.
- Leinster are aiming for a record-breaking fifth European Cup success, while Saracens will be looking to clinch a third European crown – more than any other Gallagher Premiership club.
- Should Saracens lift the Heineken Champions Cup, it will be the ninth time an English team has lifted the European Cup. However, if Leinster are victorious, it would represent an eighth Irish victory in the tournament – level with England and France.
- Leinster have won 16 of their last 17 tournament matches since the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign. The sole defeat came against Toulouse in Round 2 of this season’s pool stages.
- Both finalists have notched 32 tries from their eight Heineken Champions Cup matches this season.
- Saracens have recorded the highest lineout success this season, winning 95% of their throws.
- Leinster back Jordan Larmour and Saracens full-back Alex Goode are two of just four players to play all 640 minutes of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
Match Centre - Preview - Lineups
Saracens became the first English club to win the Heineken Champions Cup on three occasions after a 20-10 victory over Leinster Rugby at St. James Park in Newcastle on Saturday.
The English side made history in front of a capacity crowd thanks to tries from wing Sean Maitland and No.8 Billy Vunipola as well as 10 points from the boot of fly-half Owen Farrell in what was a classic Heineken Champions Cup final encounter between two European heavyweights.
As the smoke of the pre-match firework display settled, the explosive nature of the titanic clash ensued with no quarter given by either defence, but Leinster edged the ferocious opening salvo courtesy of the unwavering boot of fly-half Johnny Sexton, who settled any nerves with his first three–pointer.
Saracens responded well to going behind, but were unable to grab their first points despite a prolonged period in the Leinster 22, eventually being penalised at the breakdown, offering the Irish province a moment of relief in a bruising encounter.
Saracens hit back with a bang! 💥
— Watch the Champions Cup final live on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) May 11, 2019
Leinster, though, were less wasteful in the opposition 22 as the intense scrutiny turned to the Saracens defence, which bowed under pressure as flanker Maro Itoje was singled out by referee Jerome Garces and shown a yellow card as a result.
Despite holding off a potent Leinster scrum, the numerical advantage eventually paid off for the men in blue as prop Furlong burrowed over the whitewash to claim the opening try of a classic continental clash.
Saracens refused to relent though and after Farrell kicked a penalty to make the score 10-3, the English side bagged their first try to go in level at the interval.
It was wing Maitland who raced over following a series of phases on the Leinster try line, leaving Farrell to level the scores at 10-10 with a well-calculated conversion from the left flank.
"Heroes all over the field!"
2019 Champions Cup winners 🏆
— Watch the Champions Cup final live on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) May 11, 2019
Saracens continued to engineer an advantage in the tactical duel as their stoic defensive effort repelled a promising Leinster attack in superb fashion shortly after the restart to claim another minor battle en route to winning the war.
Farrell would then ensure their ascendancy was reflected on the scoreboard on the hour, bisecting the uprights with a straightforward penalty after back-row Scott Fardy become the second man to occupy the sin bin.
Saracens maintained their residency in the Leinster 22 and successive scrums paved the way for a rampaging Vunipola to force his way onto the scoreboard by using the full stretch of his arms to dot down and Farrell’s second conversion opened a 10-point margin between the sides with 10 minutes to play.
Leinster could seldom break out of their own half as Saracens continued to thrust forward with wave after wave of line pressure before they all fell to their knees with arms aloft in celebration as they won Europe’s elite club competition for the third time.