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Saracens player ratings vs Sale | 2023 Premiership final

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Saracens player ratings live from Twickenham: This was either going to be a Sale party reminiscent of 2006 or Saracens making amends for last year’s mishap versus George Ford’s Leicester. A lack of tries did for the Londoners on that occasion, four miserly kicks not enough to cage the Tigers.


However, the evolution of their attack this term paid a rich dividend here, two first-half tries putting them 20-13 ahead at the break and then two more in a compelling four-minute spell second-half extricating them from the crisis that was the Sharks biting to lead 23-25 with the clock ebbing away. It lest a thriller content with a thrilling denouement.

It was a sweltering summer occasion that came with its share of curiosities, mind, such as the 61,875 crowd only finally bursting to life with the expulsion of a pair of pitch invaders midway through the opening period and then Sale somehow ‘winning’ the yellow carding of Tom Curry 7-0.

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In the second period, there was the weird sight of Saracens wilting for a time like a leaky ice cream. To lose one final was excusable, but to lose two on the bounce would have been inexcusable and sure to ignite some derogatory Leinster-like comparisons.

They sweetly came good, however, when it most drastically mattered to jump 35-25 up and even the frustration of a needless yellow card wasn’t going to upset them completing their commendable climb back from automatic 2020 relegation to the Championship to become champions of England four years after they were last on the Twickenham winners’ podium. Here are the Saracens player ratings:

15. Alex Goode – 6/10
The veteran was polished in the opening period but looked like an old man wilting in the heat for quite some time in the second half. The way one awkward Sale kick bounced off the ground and over his head was pantomime. Bounced back to give Ivan van Zyl a try-scoring assist.

14. Max Malins – 8
What a way to shine on your last game before a summer move to Bristol. Forced the penalty try award and then scored himself for good measure with a lovely one-handed finish in an opening half that also featured a wicked 50:22 kick. Wasn’t perfect as he dropped a pass at 20-18, but deservedly wound up a winner, his break important in the creation of the aforementioned van Zyl clincher.


13. Alex Lozowski – 6.5 (Duncan Taylor – 7.5)
Lozowski helped to give his team’s attack an added edge that wasn’t there 11 months ago, and he also hit some sweat passes. However, Taylor’s arrival was perfectly timed at 63 minutes, his energy in the charge down of a Joe Carpenter kick helping to put his team back in front just when it seemed they would be beaten.

12. Nick Tompkins – 5.5
Didn’t provide as many frills as Lozowski and neither did he bring the defensive reliability. His high missed tackle count was a black mark on a huge occasion such as this.

11. Sean Maitland – 4 (Elliot Daly – 7)
Maitland was cruelly robbed of making a better impact, finishing up crumpled in a 21st-minute heap after contesting an up-and-under just seconds before the game was halted by unwanted pitch invaders. If only they had timed their interruption a minute earlier; the incident that left him hurt wouldn’t have happened. Daly was ultimately a cheat code replacement, scoring the vital try that got his team 28-25 in front. Would have scored earlier but for a foot in touch and also won’t like to rewatch his horrible defensive effort that allowed Tom Roebuck to score. That error was reminiscent of the Wasps-Toulouse European finale in 2004.

10. Owen Farrell – 8.5
Started with a flash of offloading brilliance in the move that gave Saracens their opening penalty points and while that was followed by the ruck infringement that gave Sale their opening points, he went on to impress royally. Moments such as ripping Manu Tuilagi of possession and a sweet kick to the corner flag in general play were among the highlights, as was that pass to usher in Mailins to score, but what was most invaluable was his leadership which kept his team trucking when they looked like a beaten docket.


9. Ivan Van Zyl – 7.5 (Aled Davies – No rating)
Saracens’ players’ player of the year gave an excellent interview to RugbyPass in the build-up and he matched that eloquence with a dogged refusal to finish as a runner-up. It was his try that was the clincher, incredibly getting the ball down despite two tacklers on him. Exited on 75.

1. Eroni Mawi – 7 (Robin Hislop – 2)
Mawi was a headline-grabbing inclusion at the expense of the benched Mako Vunipola, who ultimately cried off injured. He was neat in the traffic, got through a stack of tackles, and only gave up one penalty concession at the scrum in his 50 minutes. Hislop was way off the pace, immediately going in too high to stop Bevan Rodd from scoring and then finishing with a stupid yellow card for smacking Jonny Hill head-high at a ruck he didn’t need to contest.

2. Jamie George – No rating (Theo Dan – 8)
The hooker sadly buckled when clattering into Curry on a ball-carrying loop at an 11th-minute lineout, but his apprentice Dan became excellent when his team needed him most. Huge tackle count., Impressive too in the carry.

3. Marco Riccioni – 7.5 (Christian Judge – No rating)
We could be harsh on the Italian given the penalty trouble he found himself in at the scrum but he came good, winning a scrum collapse for penalty points at 20-18, tackling often and then lasting until his team was 10 points clear. Quite an effort for the tighthead in the energy-sapping sun. Judge finished out the last eight minutes.

4. Maro Itoje – 7
May have earned a selection on the BT Sport Premiership Immortals XV celebrating 20 years of Prem finals, but this wasn’t an immortal-type performance from a world-class operator still looking to find his best, best form. Had a humorous moment when his scrum-half-like pass from a first-half ruck struck referee Luke Pearce.

5. Hugh Tizard – 6 (Callum Hunter-Hill – 8)
Tizard can’t complain that Hill was the more effective No5, but Hunter-Hill was tremendous in helping Saracens rescue their victory. Thirteen tackles in 19 minutes was a gigantic number.

6. Nick Isiekwe – 8.5
We love the nuisance value of Isiekwe and he was that and more here, spoiling at the lineout and frustrating Sale elsewhere in so many areas, including finishing as his team’s top tackler. Also showed sweet hands, both in catching multiple lineouts and also with his assist for the lead-taking Daly score. A top-notch effort.

7. Ben Earl – 8.5
A bundle of energy who came through brilliantly in the end despite the tough-going section of the second half. It was his penalty-winning poach near his own 22 that was critical with Saracens down by two. Another constant tackler, he had earlier been responsible for the cut down the blindside from the halfway scrum that led to the game-igniting penalty try.

8. Jackson Wray – 7.5
The veteran was playing his last game before retirement and while replacing the injured Billy Vunipola seemed an onerous task, he was like a fine wine hitting the sweet spot. Got an ovation when hooked on 76 for Mawi to return for a scrum with Hislop binned.


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