Saracens defeat Leinster to clinch historic third Champions Cup title
Tries from Sean Maitland and Billy Vunipola helped Saracens come from behind against Leinster as they were crowned European champions again.
Saracens became the first English team to win three Champions Cups as they defeated the Irish province 20-10 at St James’ Park, having fought from 10-0 behind after 35 minutes.
Tadhg Furlong’s try and five points from the boot of Johnny Sexton put the defending champions ahead, before Saracens surged back to seal a memorable triumph in Newcastle.
First blood went to Leinster with less than three minutes on the clock. Sexton clinically dispatched a penalty after Saracens were penalised for straying offside moments before.
Mark McCall’s men responded with an attack through Liam Williams but the Welsh international’s jinking run was halted 10 metres out as Leinster’s defence hauled him out of touch.
After a fast and frenzied opening quarter, Leinster began to slow the ball down and build an attack through the phases only for Saracens to steal the ball back through a turnover.
The Irish province then came agonisingly close to scoring the opening try, inching towards the whitewash before Cian Healy appeared to burrow over on the half-hour mark.
Referee Jerome Garces went to the TMO, who adjudged the ball to have not been touched down, but Maro Itoje was subsequently shown a yellow card for repeated offside offences.
WE’VE DONE IT!!!! pic.twitter.com/h6mVA4mmpF
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) May 11, 2019
Leinster’s pressure eventually paid off a few minutes later, bursting through Saracens’ red wall after multiple pick-and-goes through Furlong, with Sexton adding the extras.
Despite facing a mountain to climb, Saracens soon came to life and got their first points on the scoreboard through a Owen Farrell penalty on the cusp of half-time.
And it got even better for the Gallagher Premiership Rugby outfit from the kick off, with Saracens winning a penalty at the breakdown and kicking to the corner.
With the clock going red, Saracens hammered at the Leinster defensive line before Farrell spread the ball wide to Maitland to allow the Scotland winger to canter over the tryline.
Farrell stepped up to kick the extras and, against the odds after the opening 35 minutes, Saracens found themselves level with the defending European champions at the break.
Leinster came out after the restart determined to restore their advantage, but it was Saracens who had the momentum on their side and began to look more threatening in attack.
And while a Richard Barrington dive towards the post was too high to count, Leinster were reduced to 14 men when Scott Fardy was penalised for going offside in the build-up.
Farrell kicked the resulting penalty to give Saracens the lead for the first time, before taking advantage of the extra man with their second try through Vunipola.
Once again, the extras were added and Saracens, with a ten-point advantage, were able to hold on for the final ten minutes to ensure a third star will be stitched on their shirt next season.