Saracens stars to shine in play-off final says rival boss

Saracens' Sean Maitland scores the first try against Cornish Pirates in their opening Greene King IPA Championship match

Saracens' Sean Maitland scores the first try of the game against Cornish Pirates in their opening Greene King IPA Championship match at Mennaye Field, Penzance - Credit: PA

Saracens are nearing an immediate return to the Premiership - if they can defeat Greene King IPA Championship table toppers Ealing Trailfinders over two legs.

The Fez Boys defeated the West Londoners 48-20 earlier in the season at StoneX Stadium and will be looking for a similar score in the crucial opening leg at Trailfinders Sports Club in front of live Premier Sports TV audience on Sunday (from 4.30pm).

And Coventry's Director of Rugby Rowland Winter, having seen his side play both teams during the 11-round season, told the Ham & High after Sarries emphatic 73-0 victory last month that he expects the Hendon-based outfit to have the upper hand in both legs.

Coventry's Director of Rugby Rowland Winter

Coventry's Director of Rugby Rowland Winter - Credit: Coventry RFC

"Saracens are a quality outfit and the way we like to play has been a great opportunity for them at some point," said Winter.

"It's just a pity that we didn't get an opportunity to get one over the line. You've got a group of young Coventry players that are an average age of 21 to 22 with barely five to ten average caps amongst them except a couple of season pros.

"But you're up against 11 internationals and five British Lions who are picking up form and working their way towards the end of the season."

The West Midlanders, who finished a respectable fifth behind Cornish Pirates and Doncaster in the final Championship standings, made a gallant effort but as the scoreline proved Sarries were just simply too superior on that sunny May afternoon.

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"They're a quality outfit so hats off to them," added Winter. "When you play a side with that with so many international caps there's going to be a bit of the difference."

Winter believes Ealing Trailfinders will be up for the challenge come Sunday's first leg, with the green and white hoops turning over Coventry 55-19 earlier in the season.

"I think Ealing are a very good side," Winter added. "I think Ealing will probably be disappointed with the league game a few weeks ago and actually they probably didn't really get going so I expect Ealing to put more of a fight.

"But when Saracens are in that kind of form, we're not talking about a relegated Premiership side that came down like London Irish and Newcastle in the last years, we're talking about the most decorated sides in Europe so the gap between the Premiership and Championship is ever more evident when you've got so much quality on the pitch."