Finals Day | Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12
27th May 2017
Finals Day – 27th May, 2017
After a long and tough season we have finally arrived at the grand finale for both the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12. Both competitions have produced some enthralling games with twists and turns occurring throughout.
Twickenham will be decked out in all it’s pomp and circumstance for the last outing of the 2016/17 Aviva Premiership as Wasps, outright leaders at the top of the regular season table, and Exeter Chiefs, who finished in second place after a record breaking run of bonus point wins, go head to head for the glory of domestic champions.
Wasps have been front runners for most of the season, setting the Premiership alight with some wonderful attacking plays from the likes of Kurtley Beale, Willie Le Roux, Christian Wade and Danny Cipriani to name just a few, with an scary ability to score tries seemingly at will. Joe Launchbury and company have worked hard in creating a squad who are enjoying life again at the top echelons of English club rugby. Unfortunately we will not get to see Kurtley Beale strut his stuff at Twickenham in the Black and Yellow of Wasps as he has been ruled out through injury however all of their big guns are still ready to set this game alight. They will be wary of Exeter’s forward pack and it’s ability to do the hard yards and will need to step up in this department after a tough outing against Leicester Tigers last weekend.
Exeter Chiefs are one of the most remarkable stories in club rugby after their steady build from the National Leagues all the way up to Premiership and then progressing on even further to the business end of both the domestic and European competitions. They, as a club, have kept a style of play and philosophy that has served them well for so long and will look to go one better than last year, beaten finalists against Saracens, and obtain the Premiership crown. They are able to name a full strength squad with the ever exciting talent of Olly Woodburn coming back into the squad. They will have the steady Gareth Steenson guiding them around the pitch and young Henry Slade waiting in the wings, poised to again make the sort of impact he had against Saracens last week.
This is, on paper, one of the most exciting finals in recent history and is almost guaranteed to be a superb showing of attacking rugby with both sides unafraid of running the ball. They both have strengths in different areas and how they go about nullifying these threats will be a key characteristic in how this game pans out.
After a helter-skelter season with a number of sides making late charges to try and make the play off spots we have a final that, at the start of the season, few would have called. Munster, an ever-present in the knockout stages of this tournament but set for a year of rebuilding, and the Scarlets, who have rarely delivered on the promise that their squad possessed, have upset the form books and make the final inspired and in great form. Munster will look to continue to honour the memory of province legend and coach Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley as they have done regularly this season with a huge performance in front of what should be a very strong turnout at the Aviva Stadium from the Red Army. The Scarlets will be looking to continue the form that saw them beat Leinster convincingly in the Semi Final at the RDS, the first away team to ever win a Pro12 semi final.
Today’s season-defining decider brings together the competition’s two in-form teams. Each has momentum and a settled team. Munster have won seven league games on the bounce, the Scarlets six, and Rassie Erasmus and Wayne Pivac have announced unchanged match-day 23s from their semi-finals wins over the Ospreys and Leinster. There are Lions and Internationals all over the pitch today and how they influence the game will go a long way in deciding the finale score at the Aviva. Can Scarlets contain the barnstorming runs of CJ Stander? Can Conor Murray outfox them? Can Munster retain possession against the likes of John Barclay and James Davies? Can Munster break through the brilliance of both Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams? All these questions and we can’t wait to find out the answers today, 6,15pm at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.