Alex Goode revels in Saracens silencing their doubters as he hails Mako Vunipola following Premiership final win

Saracens full-back could easily have been named man of the match instead of Vunipola but admits the prop deserves the plaudits after his recent form

Jack de Menezes
Sunday 27 May 2018 14:14
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Alex Goode celebrates Nathan Earle's try that sealed the Premiership final victory
Alex Goode celebrates Nathan Earle's try that sealed the Premiership final victory

Alex Goode heralded the performance of Premiership final man of the match Mako Vunipola and admitted that Saturday’s victory over Exeter Chiefs to clinch their fourth title in eight years.

Vunipola and his brother, Billy, were at their devastating best at Twickenham to stop the defending champions Exeter in their tracks and lay the platform for Goode and the rest of the backline to inflict the four tries that took the game out of the reach of the Devonian side.

Goode himself had his own claims to the man of the match award after being involved in all four tries, including the final pass to Billy Vunipola, Chris Wyles and Nathan Earle for their tries, but he admitted that Vunipola completely deserved the accolade after his brilliant showing on the biggest stage.

“Sometimes I give him stick: if I play well I say he doesn’t deserve man of the match, I did. But today he was outstanding,” Goode said. “Last week he was great, he really is one of the best players in the world, no doubt about it. The amount of tackles, involvements he has and for them all to be so positive: carries, hits, decision-making is brilliant. On top of that, the scrum was outstanding as well for the last period.

“We’ve always known what a talent and what a player he is. He’s a massive leader for us in terms of his actions and his voice. I’m very lucky to have him. If he was in the room, I’d never tell him because he rates himself highly enough as it is. He’s an absolute joy to play with. A brilliant, brilliant player.

“We pride ourselves on having really good leaders. We’ve grown over time. He’s got an incredible rugby mind. Both him and his brother are very astute with their understanding of the game which, perhaps, they don’t get credit for. That’s why, on the field, they always make good decisions. And on top of that, they are both in the leadership groups, talking about defence or whatever, what we need to do, they are brilliant talkers. This week, Mako has been fantastic laying it out to the boys what is expected from us.”

But as Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, said after the match, the fourth final victory proved all the more sweeter given where the club were back in mid-winter. Seven straight defeats in the Premiership, European Champions Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup – including the 46-14 defeat by Clermont Auvergne – left the club facing questions on whether the bubble had burst, such had been their success in recent years.

Saracens won their fourth Premiership title after beating Exeter Chiefs

The home defeat by Clermont particularly worried Saracens, but McCall insisted that once his key players were back fully fit and with a consistent run of games under their belt, they would be a force to be reckoned with once again.

“There has been a lot of people writing us off,” Goode added. “We lost seven on the bounce at Christmas, and we showed such character to really come together, work really hard to galvanise ourselves and get back on track.

“Obviously, it didn't go to plan in Europe, but we kept building and building and the last six weeks has been outstanding.

“People were probably saying we were over the hill or struggling this year and it is not even the age, it is the hunger to improve and get better and we have some of those players, who are world class players, pushing the standards day in, day out. A core group like that who are brilliant and everything is off that and keeps getting better. There are a lot of teams who have won it once and not been back again we have just got a desire to keep coming back and keep coming back and we want to keep proving ourselves.”

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