Posted: Friday 30th May 2014 at 17:56 pm

European finals a leveller for Premiership decider, says Hill


Northampton Saints triumphed 30-16 over Bath to win the European Challenge Cup at the Cardiff Arms’ Park last Friday, before Saracens were outclassed by Toulon in a 23-6 Heineken Cup defeat at the Millennium Stadium the following day.

And Hill – a 2003 Rugby World Cup winner with England – believes those matches will have taken their toll on both Northampton and Saracens ahead of this weekend’s domestic showdown.

“With Northampton making their own final, I think that’s levelled the playing field,” he told Perform. “There is that one day recovery difference, but that shouldn’t be an issue.”

Northampton got the better of Saracens in last season’s semi-finals, winning 27-13.

However, Hill thinks his old club have grown as a team since then and have every chance of winning their first English title since 2010-11 at Twickenham.

“I’m sure that what Saracens have been through and what they’ve achieved this year, they’ll be approaching it with the same intensity they have other games,” he continued. “I’m sure in the back of their minds they’ll want to have an opportunity to redress the balance with that match.

“Northampton played exceptionally well and took their chances well before half-time, but Saracens will certainly believe that they are made of a stronger constitution these days.

“I suppose in a way, it’s quite good that it’s Northampton playing in the Premiership final.

“One, because I think they will have an added motivation to want to beat them, but also the fact that Northampton have been involved in an extremely tough Premiership semi-final (21-20 against Leicester Tigers), and have also been involved in their own European final the week before.”

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