Heineken Champions Cup final

Saturday, 11 May

Leinster v Saracens, St James' Park, Newcastle, 5pm


Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now app from 4.30pm on Sunday.


Live commentary on Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 with Michael Corcoran, Donal Lenihan and Bernard Jackman.


Live coverage on Virgin Media One and BT Sport 2 from 4pm.


Sunny with showers, highs of 12 degrees and light winds from the east.

Leinster: Rob Kearney; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong; Devin Toner, James Ryan; Scott Fardy, Sean O'Brien, Jack Conan.

Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Rhys Ruddock, Max Deegan, Hugh O'Sullivan, Ross Byrne, Rory O'Loughlin.

Saracens: Alex Goode; Liam Williams, Alex Lozowski, Brad Barritt (capt), Sean Maitland; Owen Farrell, Ben Spencer; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Titi Lamositele; Will Skelton, George Kruis; Maro Itoje, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Joe Gray, Richard Barrington, Vincent Koch, Nick Isiekwe, Schalk Burger, Richard Wigglesworth, Nick Tompkins, David Strettle.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Stars in their eyes

Between them Leinster and Saracens have won the Heineken Champions Cups in each of the last three seasons. Leinster are looking to become the first team to add a fifth star to their jersey, to add to those won last season, 2009, 2011 and 2012. 

A victory for Mark McCall's men would see them rival recent three-in-a-row champs Toulon for dominance, adding a third title in four seasons after triumphs in 2016 and 2017. The final is being touted as the best-legacy-of-all-time decider and with some justification. Leinster have been the best team of the last decade, while Toulon have been the best team of the last half decade, plus the competition loves dominance.

Of the 11 previous winners of this 23-year-old tournament, six came in the first six seasons - of those only two - Toulouse (four) and Leicester (two) have won multiple titles. While Brive, Bath, Ulster and Northampton are stuck on one, subsequent winners have begun to dominate. The last 15 seasons have seen just six different winners, with one of Toulon, Leinster and Saracens winning every season this decade.

The one guaranteed winner tomorrow is the old regime.

Rested but not bested

Those looking to last year's quarter-final for a steer may be found wanting. Leinster did a good number on the defending back-to-back champions at the Aviva Stadium, scoring three tries in a 30-19 win, but the timing there was key. 

Sarries were battered and bruised after England's Six Nations endeavours, plus the need to front up in the Premiership and were out-fought by a Leinster side who had a little more R&R after Ireland's Grand Slam triumph. This year is different, with both sides coming to Newcastle well-rested.

Leinster's academy graduates have been doing the heavy lifting in the Pro14 after the province secured a home play-off more than a month ago, while Saracens have similarly been able to rest key players due to their Premiership position.

The advances in sports science mean that player are no longer required to 'get a run out' ahead o the biggest games, with both McCall and Leinster head coach Leo Cullen confident their experienced players can get themselves up to the pitch of a continental final through training like Leinster's infamous Tuesday sessions.

Key battles

With a dozen Lions on the pitch the standard of this contest is sure to be at or close to Test level and the margins between victory and defeat could be infinitesimal. An obvious clash to keep an eye on is that between fly-halves Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton. The current World Player of the Year has had some cracking encounters with his Lions team-mate over the years and whichever one gets the upper hand here could go a long way to deciding this contest.

Rob Kearney will earn his corn against the likes of Alex Goode and Liam Williams, with Sarries scrum-half Ben Spencer likely to launch long bomb after long bomb on top of the Ireland and Leinster full-back. Content with breaking the ball backwards, the Saracens backline will look to challenge Kearney at every opportunity.

Follow Leinster v Saracens (5pm) with our live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App or listen to live coverage on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.