Tuesday 23 July 2019

Leinster's drive for five fails against Saracens

Leinster's Johnny Sexton and team mates get to grips with defeat to Saracens at St James's Park in Newcastle. Photo: Reuters
Leinster's Johnny Sexton and team mates get to grips with defeat to Saracens at St James's Park in Newcastle. Photo: Reuters
Rory Tevlin

Rory Tevlin

There was heartache for Leinster last night as they missed out on the chance to become the most successful side in the history of European rugby.

The defending champions lost the chance to win their fifth continental crown with defeat to English side Saracens in Newcastle, with travelling fans dejected.

Owen Farrell celebrates with the Champions Cup trophy. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Owen Farrell celebrates with the Champions Cup trophy. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

For siblings Carolyn Geelon, from Dunshaughlin, Co Meath and Les Higgins from Newbridge, Co Kildare, it has become an annual pilgrimage. This was not the result they hoped for but they are already looking ahead to next year.

Carolyn said: "We go every year and we already have our trip booked for Marseille next year.

"We were in Bilbao last year which was great."

Les added: "Newcastle has really embraced it all, it's a lovely city and really set up well to host a game like this."

Most Leinster supporters swarmed into Newcastle from early yesterday as 17 flights ferried the day- trippers to the north-east. They joined the thousands that had already made the journey and saw Newcastle city centre come alive.

Newcastle is a buzzy city regardless but the thousands of fans that descended made for a special atmosphere.

It was clear from early in the day that blue was going to dominate as Leinster fans vastly outnumbered their Saracens counterparts. Unfortunately for the travelling supporters, the same could not be said of what ultimately happened on the hallowed turf of St James's Park. After a scrappy first half, the second half saw Saracens take control. Owen Farrell put his side ahead after Scott Fardy was sent to the sin bin. A Billy Vuinipola try saw the English team go 10 points ahead as the game entered the final stages. They ran out 20-10 winners to secure their third European Cup.

As the sun set on the European rugby season, the fans that made the trip will surely still dwell on a weekend to remember, if not a result to savour.

Sunday Independent

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