Leicester Tigers crowned 2022 Premiership champions

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Leicester Tigers 15 : 12 Saracens

The 2022 Gallagher Premiership final stuttered and spattered to a Leicester victory in front of 72,784 spectators at a very cloudy Twickenham.

Neither side made much of an attempt to entertain and anyone hoping of a repeat of last years’s final, even last week’s Saracens semi-final, would have left disappointed.

[Gallagher Final 2021 – Fans the winners too as Quins win ‘most amazing game of rugby ever’]

It would be wrong to fault Leicester, if only because they won the match, but also because they occasionally managed to switch their approach as the game’s circumstances demanded.

Having barely registered a sequence or a hand on the ball, Hanro Liebenberg burrowed over for both Leicester, and the game’s, first try within seconds of a yellow card for Sarries’ Aled Davies for a needless head high tackle.


“Sarries fans were justified in being mystified by their side’s tactics.”


The contrast could not have been greater between that and how Saracens approached their man advantage in the last three minutes.

Matt Scott was was sent packing for a pretty similar offence and Saracens had the world at their feet. The score was 12-12 and they had a crucial advantage for the remainder of the game.

The crowd was expecting them to roar and charge at a scattered Tigers side.

Instead, they hoofed the ball high three times and on three occasions it fell neatly into Tigers’ hands, with the Leicester player hardly needing to move. Three bad decisions and three poor kicks. The 14 men, totally grateful for being handed this on a plate, successfully rucked, shoved, rolled and mauled until close enough to drop the winning goal with seconds left.

Saracens had displayed a masterclass in how not to benefit from a man advantage. It’s too much of a stretch to say they gave the cup away but the Tigers management must have watched on with glee as they were let off the hook.

Neither side had allowed their backline much of a chance to entertain the crowd but it just seemed to be a tad more frustrating when Saracens refused to toss the ball wide, given how entertaining they been just a week ago in flattening Harelquins 34-17.

Jasper Wiese had added the game’s only other try during Davies’ absence, and the whole game was a great advert for South African forward resilience rather than the feast on display during the previous year’s Quins win over Exeter.

The game began with Leicester playing as Sarries had ended it. Too much kicking and much of it landing easily in a Saracens hand. It’s true the wind was swirling but the ball was dry, and the fans waited eagerly again and again for the backs to be thrown the ball and run. Too often, they just kicked it back. Only to receive it again, and rinse and repeat.

It took 16 minutes for Leicester to give their fans something to cheer as they encamped on the Sarries line. That ended with Mr Barnes awarding the Londoners a penalty.

A similar Sarries attack ended the same way two minutes later.

The game changed after 26 minutes of a completely nondescript performance from the Tigers when Davies was sinbinned. Almost as if an alarm clock had gone off, Leicester roused themselves and seconds later took a 7-3 lead with Liebenberg’s try and Burns’ conversion. Elliot Daly scored a very impressive long distance penalty for the Londoners to reduce the lead to 7-6.

Leicester further punished Davies for his misdemeanour by scoring the game’s second and last try before half time, 35′ Jasper Wiese burrowing over, breaking a weak tackle to score Leicester’ second and extend the lead to 12-6.

Tigers led at half time but it had hardly been a classic. It was indeed hard to recall when either side had strung together more than five passes.

Two penalty goals was the entirety of the second half scoring until the final drama. The game did intensify but the Sarries’ poor decision making and lack of ambition continued.

On the hour, there was an audible groan from the London side’s support when another invitation to feed the backs was declined, for a kick into the air that ended almost perfectly in Leicester hands. They were justified in being mystified by their side’s tactics.

Three minutes later, they finally threw the ball about.

Leicester looked ragged at the unexpected challenge. Just as the feast was about to land at the dinner table, another utterly pointless kick surrendered the initiative.  The move did draw a penalty and a chance for Owen Farrell to bring the game to 12-12.

It looked like Scott’s dismissal had laid the finish up for Saracens victory. Instead they kicked their way to defeat and Burn’s dramatic late drop goal gave them a loss that could have been avoided.

Line-ups

Leicester Tigers: Steward; Ashton, Moroni, Porter, Potter; Ford, Wigglesworth; Genge (capt), Montoya, Cole, Chessum, Green, Liebenberg, Reffell, Wiese.

Replacements: Clare, Leatigaga, Heyes, Wells, Martin, Youngs, Burns, Scott.

Saracens: Goode; Malins, Daly, Tompkins, Maitland; Farrell (capt), Davies; M Vunipola, George, Koch, Itoje, Isiekwe, McFarland, Earl, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Pifeleti, Mawi, Clarey, Wray, Christie, Van Zyl, Taylor, Lozowski.

Referee: Wayne Barnes

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