Premiership Preview: Saracens
Last Season: 4th, Champions
Top Tryscorer: Chris Ashton and Chris Wyles (13)
Top Pointscorer: Charlie Hodgson (152)
‘Strange’ would probably be an appropriate word for Saracens’ 2014/15 campaign. Despite finishing the league season three places and a massive 19 points lower than last year, they took home two more trophies than the previous campaign, ending the year as Grand Final and LV=Cup winners.
Despite the Men in Black finishing in their lowest league standing since 2009, their play-off campaign was nothing short of outstanding as they shocked Northampton on their own patch before dismantling Bath in the Twickenham final.
The Coach: Mark McCall
Th 48-year-old in one of the division’s most secure coaches and is a widely-regarded advocate of attacking rugby, a fact epitomised as they became the Premiership’s highest scorers in a season for ten years, outdone by a point by Leicester’s 665-point haul in 2004/05, last season.
Key Man: Owen Farrell
The fly half has racked up 343 points from just 35 England caps while rattling up a monstrous 1,112 points in just 113 games for his north London club. Though, kicking talents have never been in doubt, criticism has come his way due to his lack of consistency. But he came of age last year, scoring a try and ten crucial points in the 28-16 Premiership Grand Final win over Bath, subsequently picking up the Man of the Match award for his efforts. Can he find a new level in 2014/15? England expects.
Prediction: 2nd, finalists
The star quality which runs through the core of this Sarries clear to see and it looks likely that, whoever beats them, will become Champions. Despite the loss of record scorer David Strettle, a small player turnover, just three new arrivals and four permanent departures, sets a solid platform for a good start to the year which will set them apart from their top four rivals. Champions’ Cup qualification will be comfortably achieved, but the Bath bandwagon will clinch the all-important silverware in a reverse of this year’s showpiece. Odds for Title: 11/4.