Match Reaction: Captain Barritt praises Saracens’ leaders
Saracens captain Brad Barritt paid tribute to the senior players in Mark McCall’s squad after their stunning Heineken Champions Cup final comeback
The reigning Gallagher Premiership Rugby champions lifted the top European trophy for the third time in four years with a 20-10 victory over Leinster in dramatic style.
Saracens found themselves trailing 10-0 but dug in deep to fight their way back into the match by shutting out holders Leinster earn a memorable win at St James’ Park.
Sean Maitland’s 39th-minute try cancelled out Tadhg Furlong’s earlier score to send the two sides in level at half-time before the north Londoners completely shut up shop, allowing Billy Vunipola to score the crucial match-winning points.
Leinster scored their only try of the match while Maro Itoje was in the sin-bin but Barritt believes that the game changed in Saracens’ favour while they were reduced to 14 men.
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“It is difficult to sum it up with all the emotion that has gone into it this season but it has been a full-squad effort and I can’t speak highly enough of the other leaders we have in this team,” said Barritt.
“The players galvanised their performances after we went down to 14 men and that was the game-changing moment for us.
“We started to say to ourselves ‘why are we worrying about the small things’ and from that moment on, we began to empty the tank and I am so proud of the organisation of the whole team.
“We said at no stage is this game won we have to keep going for 40 minutes and the most pleasing thing was battering them in their 22 in the last ten minutes and giving them no easy out – that was one of the hallmarks of our belief and physicality and something we pride ourselves on.”
Saracens will be fighting to retain their Gallagher Premiership Rugby crown once the regular season has ended this weekend and will no doubt need to call upon the senior players in their ranks once more if they are to be successful.
England fly-half Owen Farrell showed nerves of steel to control the game and knock over some testing kicks as Saracens scored 20 unanswered points in Newcastle.
Vunipola might have got the points that put his side in the driving seat but Farrell was pleased with the cohesion with which his teammates played with against a strong Leinster outfit.
“It’s a massive occasion for the whole club. It’s not just about the lads on this pitch, everybody that’s behind the scenes makes this club what it is,” said Farrell.
“We were playing against a really good team who’ve got to back-to-back finals and they tested us. But this is a tight-knit group and that’s what makes us good.
“Billy [Vunipola] has played well and that’s what he does on a regular basis. It’s not just off-field stuff, it’s other things as well and we’ve allowed it to make us tighter.”