PLAYER RATINGS: Leicester overcome Saracens in final thriller
PLAYER RATINGS: Leicester overcome Saracens in Premiership final thriller with Jasper Wiese’s physicality decisive on the day… but Sarries’ pack fail to deliver as Jamie George and Maro Itoje disappointed at Twickenham
- Leicester complete remarkable redemption story under coach Steve Borthwick
- They edge out Saracens 15-12 on a tense Saturday afternoon at Twickenham
- Owen Farrell’s late penalty had brought the sides level with minutes remaining
- Freddie Burns’ drop-kick won it for Leicester right at the end of the affair
Leicester Tigers claimed Gallagher Premiership glory with a 15-12 victory over Saracens in a see-saw Twickenham final.
Freddie Burns’ last-gasp drop goal sealed Leicester’s return to the big time after years in the wilderness as both teams lost a man to yellow cards.
Sportsmail’s Alex Bywater was at Twickenham to cast his eye over both sets of players…
Leicester’s determination and physicality was eventually what saw them win out on Saturday
Freddie Steward – 8.5 Poor start as he dropped his first high ball and then produced a woeful kick, but he responded impressively and played a key role in his team’s first try.
Chris Ashton – 7 Wasn’t always involved, but he made his moments count and was lively when required. Supported Steward in run-up to first Leicester score. No try but yet another Premiership title.
Matias Moroni – 6.5 Big hit got his team firing and he was part of a solid Leicester back-line defence which stayed watertight even after George Ford’s injury. Replaced by Matt Scott who was yellow carded in the final 10.
Hanro Liedenberg crossed over for Leicester as the Tigers scored two tries at Twickenham
Freddie Burns, introduced early on in the game, delivered the decisive blow for Leicester
Guy Porter – 7 Unheralded figure. The glue in an impressive Tigers outfit and he made one fine second-half break. Will never get the headlines but perhaps he should do.
Harry Potter – 6.5 Didn’t get the chance to wave his magic wand in a tight game but didn’t make any mistakes and hassled and harried. A crucial part of Leicester’s title win.
George Ford – 5 His first shot at goal went awry. Tried to make amends by immediately running the ball back but suffered an ankle injury and was forced off. It was a cruel way for his last Leicester game to end after a superb campaign. Ford moves to Sale for next season. Freddie Burns excelled in his place and won it with a late drop goal.
Steve Borthwick watched his side complete their remarkable turnaround with the Premiership crown
Richard Wigglesworth – 6.5 Shock start against his old club at the age of 39. He was at the heart of all the kicking during the first half. His passing wasn’t always razor sharp but he cajoled well before being replaced by Ben Youngs.
Ellis Genge (capt) – 8 Ballsy and clever decision to take quick tap paid off with Leicester’s second try. Impressive and calm leadership too in the face of a fierce game. Surprisingly replaced having given everything.
Julian Montoya – 8 Was hit high by Aled Davies but brushed it off and punched the air with delight after winning one second-half turnover. Strong performance ended by a head injury assessment.
Jasper Wiese got the better of the Premiership’s player of the year, Ben Earl, on the day
Dan Cole – 7 Told he lost his bind at a scrum in a prime Leicester attacking opportunity. It seemed a harsh call by Wayne Barnes. Key role in one of his team’s tries and can be pleased with his afternoon. Replaced by Joe Heyes.
Ollie Chessum – 8.5 Hugely impressive first half as he charged into everything with phenomenal enthusiasm. Work rate was off the charts. A statement performance in front of watching England head coach Eddie Jones.
Calum Green – 7.5 He is not a superstar like Maro Itoje, but he gave the England man plenty to think about as part of an impressive Leicester performance up front.
Jasper Wiese crossed over for one of Leicester’s two tries against Saracens at Twickenham
Hanro Liebenberg – 8 Cost his team three points when penalised for late tackle on Nick Tompkins but crashed over from close range and was hugely physical.
Tommy Reffell – 7.5 One good steal and always looked a breakdown threat. Emptied the tank and then gave way for fresh legs. Will travel to Wales with South Africa a Premiership winner.
Jasper Wiese – 9 Powered over at the end of the first half after Genge’s quick tap and with Saracens down to 14. He was relentlessly physical and deserved his man-of-the-match award.
Replacements: Freddie Burns 8.5 (for Ford 24), Joe Heyes 7 (for Cole 55), Matt Scott 5 (for Moroni 58), Ben Youngs 6.5 (for Wigglesworth 65), Martin 6 (for Reffell 65), Harry Wells 6.5 (for Green 65), Charlie Clare 6.5 (for Montoya 65), Nephi Leatigaga 6.5 (for Genge 65)
Tries: Liebenberg 27, Wiese 35 Cons: Burns 28
Drop goal: Burns 80+2
Alex Goode – 6.5 Solid under the high ball and had to temporarily move to scrum-half when his team lost Aled Davies to the sin bin.
Max Malins – 5.5 The constant kicking meant we didn’t get to see much of the Premiership’s top try scorer in attack, but he did the nuts and bolts of the game as well as he could. Would have wanted far more opportunity to run.
Elliot Daly – 5.5 Kicked a monster penalty for three points but should have done better defensively on Steward in the build-up to a Leicester score.
Elliot Daly’s best efforts were not enough to prevent Leicester completing their remarkable redemption tale
Nick Tompkins – 7 He has grown into a key figure for Saracens and should start for Wales in South Africa this summer, but this wasn’t his afternoon as his team never got going in attack. Still gave everything.
Sean Maitland – 4 All he could do was chase high kicks in the first half and he did so with gusto but he did not appear for the second period and was replaced by Alex Lozowski.
Owen Farrell (capt) – 5.5Kicked an early penalty but had little front foot ball to work off on a frustrating day. Couldn’t swing the balance of the game back in his team’s favour.
Owen Farrell was unable to swing the game in his side’s favour at Twickenham on Saturday
Aled Davies – 4 Dropped a high ball and then played Goode into trouble on his own line. He was then incredibly lucky not to see red for a high tackle on Montoya. Somehow only a yellow was given.
Mako Vunipola – 5.5 Led his team out on his 200th Saracens appearance and smashed Porter. One lovely half break but it was an isolated moment.
Jamie George – 5 He had his hands full dealing with Leicester up front in the first half and didn’t get much more joy in the second. A rare disappointment on the big stage.
Vincent Koch – 5 Wasps-bound prop struggled against Genge and didn’t show up much in the loose which has become his strength.
Maro Itoje (right) failed to impress for Saracens on a tense afternoon at Twickenham
Maro Itoje – 3 Unusually absent from the game’s biggest moments. Itoje was made to look virtually anonymous on a poor day at the office. Credit to Leicester’s forwards for that.
Nick Isiekwe – 5 Dropped a pass with his team on the attack at the end of the first 40 and was part of a Saracens pack that was often second best.
Theo McFarland – 5.5 He has had a fine season but had his hands full against Leicester’s giant back-row. This wasn’t the game for his all-action basketball-style of rugby. Replaced by Andy Christie who made a fine break.
Ben Earl looked to make things happen throughout for Saracens but his efforts were in vain
Ben Earl – 6 The Premiership’s player of the year never stopped giving it everything but didn’t have his usual joy around the field. Penalised for going off his feet in the second half.
Billy Vunipola – 7 Brilliant sidestep and run showed he has grace as well as power but he then conceded a silly penalty. Won a second-half penalty in response and was impressive on the whole.
Replacements: Alex Lozowski 5.5 (for Maitland 40), Andy Christie 7 (for McFarland 60), Ivan van Zyl 6.5 (for Davies 69), Eroni Mawi 6 (for M Vunipola 69), Duncan Taylor 5.5 (for Tompkins 73), Jackson Wray 5 (for B Vunipola 79), McFarland 5.5 (for Isiekwe 80+2)
Replacements not used: Kapeli Pifeleti, Alec Clarey
Pens: Farrell 5, 65, 76, Daly 31
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)
Star man: Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers)
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