Retaining their Premiership Rugby crown was never going to be straightforward but after overturning a losing scoreline five times at Twickenham, Leicester Tigers certainly earned it.
With two league titles in the previous three seasons, Tigers were seeking to become only the second club to ever win back-to-back Premiership Rugby Finals.
After topping the regular season table and sweeping past Bath Rugby in the semi-finals, courtesy of Toby Flood’s boot, Saracens stood between them and the trophy.
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The London club would go on to turn the tables on Tigers 12 months later but this final was Leicester’s – though they didn’t have it all their own way.
It took a late Dan Hipkiss try to secure the 33-27 victory and Richard Cockerill, in his first full season in charge at Welford Road, pointed to a season of hard graft after they got over the line.
“When it's wet and cold and horrible we go outside and do the graft, regardless of whether the players want to or not,” he said.
“You saw the result out there today.
“If you work hard in the week there's a good chance it'll work on Saturday. Other teams wouldn't have coped with the injuries we had but we do.
“It's just the culture we have. If you're not very good or don't want to work hard, you're out of the door.”
Sarries, who had edged past Northampton Saints 21-19 in their semi-final, took an early 6-3 lead in front of 81,600 at Twickenham, through Glen Jackson’s boot.
A superb Matt Smith try put Tigers in front only for Saracens skipper Ernst Joubert – third in the Premiership Rugby player of the season award – to score his first of the afternoon.
Ben Youngs touched down to give Leicester a 20-14 advantage at the break but, after Flood had extended the lead to nine from the tee, Joubert crossed over again.
Two late Jackson penalties edged Sarries in front but there was still time for replacement Hipkiss to capitalise on a momentary lapse in concentration and streak towards the line for the winning score.
Saracens hearts were broken but Jackson’s post-match thoughts should have served as a warning to their rivals ahead of the following campaign.
“We should be a team who can fight in the top four every season,” said the Kiwi.
“Brendan [Venter] has led our club into a pretty good place and we were just three minutes away from being the best side in England. We are now up there with the best teams in England.”
Leicester Tigers 33 Saracens 27
Leicester Tigers: Murphy, Hamilton, Smith (Hipkiss 68), Allen, Tuilagi (Staunton 74), Flood, Youngs, Ayerza, Chuter, Castrogiovanni (Cole 67), Deacon, Parling, Croft, Moody (Newby 68), Crane Not used: Duffey, Stankovich, Woods, Grindal
Saracens: Goode, Tagicakibau (Ratuvou 57), Powell, Barritt, Wyles, Jackson, De Kock (Marshall 65); Aguero (Gill 49), Brits, Du Plessis, Borthwick (Botha 45), Vyvyan, Burger, Saull (Melck 65), Joubert Not used: Ongaro, Skuse, Hougaard
Tries: Smith, Youngs, Hipkiss
Cons: Flood 3
Pens: Flood 4
Tries: Joubert 2
Pens: Jackson 5
Referee: Dave Pearson