It’s all down to one game as the Premiership Rugby final kicks off on Sunday between the Northampton Saints and Saracens.
This championship, which is one of two Premiership Rugby trophies you can see on FloRugby, is where the Premiership’s up-and-coming players get to show off their skills.
Many of these players have emerged as breakout athletes. Flyhallf James Grayson of Northampton, as well as Tom Whiteley, Joel Kpoku, and Matt Gallagher of Saracens, have shown they have what it takes to be successful professionals.
Young veteran Tom Woolstencroft says his Saints have really benefited from the competition.
“We all have the same mindset for every game,” he told Premiership Rugby. “We pride ourselves on our mentality going into these games and other than a few personnel changes it’s going to be the same. It’s been an awesome experience to play in every round. We’ve had quite a young side out every game and it gives the young players, including myself, a massive opportunity.”
How The Saints Got There
The Saints kicked off their season with a 51-24 defeat of the Bristol Bears. Grayson kicked 14 points and Francois van Wyk scored two tries in that game. A week later, Mitch Eadie’s try with time up made it 14-13 for Wasps, and Grayson’s conversion won the game for the Saints.
Another close game, this time a loss, highlighted Week 3 as Gloucester defeated Northampton 14-12. But in January, the Saint thumped Leicester 47-20 with 17 points from Grayson and two tries from Cobus Reinach. That was the crucial result, as it clinched a semifinal spot for Northampton.
In the semis, a flood of tries produced a 59-33 defeat of Newcastle. Eight different Saints scored tries, with only Heinrich Brussow getting more than one. A four-try surge in four minutes put that game away.
How Saracens Got There
Saracens kicked off their campaign against Leicester Tigers back in October, where tries from Schalk Burger, Sione Vailanu and debutant Joel Kpoku helped them into a 26-9 lead with 18 minutes to go.
That advantage was almost wiped out by the boot of Joe Ford and late tries from David Feao and Harry Wells – although the hosts hung on to win 29-21.
Kpoku impressed once more in Round Two’s clash with Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium, notching his second try in as many games en route to a 15-15 draw.
Scrumhalf Will Cliff’s all-around performance almost earned Sale victory – grabbing a try, a conversion and a penalty – but Max Malins had the final say when he slotted a penalty with 13 minutes left to snatch a draw for the Men in Black.
A thrilling Round Three encounter with Worcester Warriors returned ten tries and a 34-22 victory for Saracens.
McCall’s side trailed 12-10 at the break but a second-half brace from Ali Crossdale was enough to turn things round and end Worcester’s perfect start to their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign.
Kpoku was the star again in the final group game as Saracens downed Harlequins at the Stoop.
There was only one point to separate the sides at the break but yet another strong second half saw tries from Kpoku – who charged down a clearance, collected the loose ball and barged his way over – Malins and Rotimi Segun to ensure McCall’s troops would be in the semi-finals.
And that last-four clash brought about a repeat of the Round Three fixture, with a similar result as Saracens ran out 38-22 winners over Worcester Warriors at Sixways.
Alex Lozowski kicked 18 points while tries from Tom Whiteley, Segun, Malins and Vailanu made sure Tom Howe’s second-half double counted for nothing.