LONDON (Reuters) - English rugby’s Premiership final on Saturday is a classic showdown between the high-risk, attacking verve of Bath and the pragmatic points accumulation machine of Saracens.
This weekend’s contest is perfectly encapsulated by the opposing flyhalves.
Last Saturday Owen Farrell showed that, after an injury-hit season that saw him lose his England place, he is back to the peak of his game as he kicked 19 points, including a nerveless late long-range penalty, to see Saracens past holders Northampton.
Hours later the man who usurped him for the England number 10 shirt, George Ford, was at the heart of Bath’s remarkable demolition of Leicester, lighting the blue touchpaper again and again as his red-hot backs ran in a remarkable seven tries.
The two players, both sons of rugby league internationals, are of similar outlook when it comes to team ethos, mentality and workrate and will relish going head to head in front of 82,000 at Twickenham.
Farrell is well used to such occasions, as are most of his team mates because Saracens are appearing in their fourth final in six years, seeking their second victory.
The 23-year-old, who missed three months of the season with a knee injury, said everything was falling into place for the London team in the wake of their victory at Northampton, the team that beat them in last year’s final.
“It’s a feeling, an energy,” said Farrell. “Not everything has gone our way by any means but we are excited to be able to have a go at it again.”
Saracens were at their cussed best in the semi-finals, their ferocious defence inspired by Namibian flanker Jacques Burger, and will stick to their territory-based game.
Bath, the former powerhouses of England who have not appeared in a playoff final since 2004, will retain their attack-minded approach as they seek a first title since 1996.
Despite having less than 30 percent territory and 35 percent possession against Leicester, Bath were clinical, getting into the opposition 22 eight times and scoring a try on seven occasions.
Ford, 22, is playing with great bravery and ambition, though he is helped by having a trio of England fliers outside him in centres Jonathan Joseph and Kyle Eastmond and wing Anthony Watson.
Bath, however, are not just a team of backs as their monumental defensive effort against Leicester showed.
“The 47 points get the headlines but we defended our line for our lives,” said captain Stuart Hooper.
Editing by Tony Jimenez