By Andrew Hartup, Rugby World reader
The Final Whistle
So, justice was done this weekend. Leicester, the winners of the Guinness Premiership regular season won the play-off final against Saracens. They came top of the table, they deserve to lift the trophy. And they did it with style. Anyone who likes to grumble about Leicester playing dull, forwards-based rugby will surely be silenced (for now) by what they saw on Saturday.
The final was a glorious, tense, try-filled affair – a far cry from last year’s nervy, underwhelming penalty shoot-out. Players like Ben Youngs and Geoff Parling showcased themselves as talents to watch on England’s forthcoming summer tour, while key performances from Andy Saull and Brad Barritt only served to highlight the ridiculousness of their exclusion from the 44-man squad.
It’s bound to be a worry rattling round in Martin Johnson’s head following England’s last-gasp win against the BaBas yesterday. A late Olly Barkley penalty saved the experimental team’s blushes, after they’d thrown away a commanding lead. Yes, a win is a win going into a tough tour, and some players put in decent performances, but the team will have to perform for the full 80 minutes if we’re to avoid another massacre in the Southern Hemisphere…
Wales will certainly have cause to be chipper going into their tour. Last week’s Amlin win for the Blues was echoed in the Magners final on Saturday as the Ospreys finished off a Leinster team who will be happy to forget the 2009/10 season having failed to make the grade domestically or in Europe…
But surely the ‘Most Aggrieved Team Award’ for the week has to go to Bristol. Having topped the Championship table, and endured the bizarre pool-system to force their way into the play-off final for that solo promotion place, they failed to turn up against the Exeter Chiefs on Wednesday, and are facing the prospect of a second season in the lower league. So, justice may have been done in the Guinness Premiership, but the Championship play-offs have left many feeling cheated.