Jonathan Davies: Tigers learn a sense of adventure to go with their power

In Harry Ellis they have a creative force bang in form

We are now facing the final final of the rugby season. A few days before June arrives, the Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham on Saturday will definitely put an end to domestic hostilities until September and, at last, English rugby will have an overall champion.

It seems a tortuous way of getting there but, as with summer international tours, it is all part of maximising revenue for the game. I am sure it is more than just squeezing the last bit of admission money from the fans - but, in any case, the fans seem to love it.

It is certainly a promising showpiece to look forward to. Having won the long league campaign in some style, Sale will probably feel strange having to prove their worth all over again in a one-off but that should give them plenty of motivation. And you can depend that Leicester, having fallen below their usual standards in the league and the cups, will be ready to leap at this chance to finish on a high note. So there will be no lack of commitment and effort. They will both be up for it.

Leicester are always tough to beat, I am a big fan of their approach and have respect for what they have achieved. But it has been four years since they won a top trophy and the way they lost to Wasps in the Powergen and Bath in the Heineken Cup would have been very hurtful.

London Irish found out how hurtful when they crashed 40-8 to the Tigers in the semi-final. I thought Leicester would win because it was played at Welford Road but I did not expect such a massive margin. Irish had not lost on the road since Leicester beat them 35-3 in November and they walked into another hammering and were overwhelmed by five tries to one.

It was a performance that showed Leicester's mental toughness and also proved that they have the ability to move the ball around in devastating fashion. In scrum-half Harry Ellis they have a creative force who is bang in form while Martin Corry appears determined to prove that England should be taking him to Australia instead of resting him. With such players on top of their game and the momentum behind them, Leicester will be difficult to beat.

While Leicester were beating Irish, Sale were disposing of the reigning champions Wasps by a much slimmer margin and thanks mainly to a brilliant try by Jason Robinson. Robinson settled what was a tight and bruising encounter with a brilliant 50-yard dart for the game's only try.

There was a time when such penetrative ability was Sale's stock in trade but they have changed into a tough, pack-dominated team who do not play anything like as much football as they used to.

Maybe, that's the sort of transformation a team need to go through these days but there's always a market for magic at the top. In their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Biarritz, I felt that Sale were far too negative. Had they been more adventurous I am sure they would have fared better but their tactics played into the hands of the French team. It is a shame because they have such a pacy back three in Robinson, Mark Cueto and Oriol Ripol.

But in Mark Taylor and Elvis Seveali'i they have a centre partnership that is more defensive than offensive. Both are having a very good season but their presence betrays Sale's main intention and that is for their centres to concentrate on getting down the middle and act as targets for the forwards. Neither is creative and this curtails any chance of a swashbuckling style. Their forwards are a match for anyone but this lack of the ability, or the inclination, to cut loose when the opportunity arises is a fault.

I am not sure that the final is going to be a classic because old habits die hard, but it will be an engrossing battle and Leicester may sense that their best chance lies in the adventurous route.

Sale will not be comforted by their Twickenham record of three appearances and three defeats or that the regular-season champions have not fared well in this finale.

It cannot fail to be a massive test of character, and stamina, for two formidable teams.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor