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Rugby News

Preview | Gallagher Premiership Cup Final

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Leicester Tigers reach double figures in Premiership Rugby Final appearances this weekend, but also a first since 2013 as they meet Saracens in the domestic season’s showpiece.

As the top two in the Gallagher Premiership table at the end of its 26-round season, Tigers and Saracens go head to head in the Final for a third time, with each club taking one win from encounters at Twickenham in 2010 and ’11.

Saracens toppled defending champions Harlequins in the semi-finals last Saturday and are among only four clubs to beat the Tigers in the league programme alongside Wasps, Sale and Quins.

Tigers beat Northampton Saints in the semi-finals at Mattioli Woods Welford Road last Saturday with tries Freddie Steward and George Ford, who also kicked 17 points.

Head coach Steve Borthwick brings Chris Ashton and Richard Wigglesworth into the Tigers backline and there is a starting spot in the forwards for Ollie Chessum.

Dan Cole, a starter when Tigers last won the title at Twickenham in 2013 and approaching his 290th first-team appearance for his hometown club, said: “You learn over time and appreciate how hard it is just to win games in the Premiership let alone get to Finals.

“We will never have this same set of players again, maybe not have the same opportunities again. You impress on the guys that you hope Leicester have many more finals but you have to appreciate this for what it is on the day.

“There have been a lot of changes at the club on and off the field, and I think to get to the Final it is a nice way of showing all the hard work that everyone has put in – the medics, S&C, everyone that has been working for the club.

“As players, there is a lot of work you get through together and the 80 minutes is only a small part. We’re together for a long time, you spend a lot of time together in the season, there is a lot more goes into the games.”

Cole will be in direct opposition to fellow internationals Jamie George and Mako Vunipola in the Sarries front row and added: “Saracens are a brilliant side, they have proved that over several years. They play the game the way they play, they are physical, you always know you’re going to have to be good to play against them.”

Leicester have lost just one of their last five matches at Twickenham in Premiership action, against Bath in ‘The Clash’ in April 2017.

Saracens have won on their last eight visits since an extra-time defeat by Northampton in the 2014 Final.

This is their eighth Premiership Final appearance, with five previous wins in 2011, ’15, ’16, ’18 and ’19.

Their only loss in their last six meetings with the Tigers was by a single point (13-12) at Mattioli Woods Welford Road last October in Round 3 of the season.

In team news announced on Friday, Nick Isiekwe returns to the Saracens pack after starting the semi-final win over Quins among the replacements, while Mako Vunipola makes is 200th appearance for the club. Back-rower Jackson Wray returns with a place on the bench.

Sarries captain Owen Farrell said: “We’ve got an opportunity to do something special and we’re really looking forward to it.

“We’re up against a fantastic side who we respect, so we have had to make sure our preparation has been right. The past is the past and we want to make sure that all of the exciting stuff is in front of us.”

Overall, the two clubs have met on 93 occasions with Tigers winning 57 to 30 by Saracens and six games drawn.

Referee Wayne Barnes is Premiership Rugby’s most experienced official and takes charge of his 10th Final.

Tigers will be in the club’s traditional colours of green, white and red as the ‘home’ team after reaching the Final from a position as No1 seed in the semi-finals.

If scores are level at 80 minutes, extra-time (2 x 10 minutes) will be played. If the scores are still level, the team with the most tries in the game (including extra-time) will be the winner. If they are still equal, there will be a place-kicking competition involving three players from each team.

Check our Matchday Guide for everything you need to know if you are going to the game.

There is live coverage on BT Sport 1HD and also on ITV4 – the first time the Premiership Final has been on terrestrial television.

The match is also been shown around the world in 145 territories. For full details of how you watch the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final outside the UK and Ireland click here.

Tickets are still available through www.premiershiprugby.com. Please note that tickets cannot be booked through the Tigers ticket office.