Leinster v Northampton, Heineken Cup Final, May 21
Saints must stop Leinster at source
May 20, 2011
Soane Tonga'uiha has been one of Northampton's top performers this season © Getty Images
Northampton prop Soane Tonga'uiha believes the set-piece battle will decide this afternoon's Heineken Cup final with Leinster at Millennium Stadium.
Both teams are feared for their scrummaging and Tonga'uiha insists that if Saints do gain the upper hand, it will only be in the closing stages of the match. Leinster boast a formidable line-up containing 12 Ireland internationals and start as clear favourites, forcing Tonga'uiha to accept that their supply of ball must be disrupted.
"We've come up against some good teams this season but Leinster are one of the best," said the Tongan. "They have some great ball carriers and their pack do their set-piece well.
"That's something we pride ourselves on as well, so it will be a good match-up. If we do get an edge in the scrum, it will take a long time to come. We're focusing on getting on top of them set-piece wise, especially in the scrum.
"It's not going to take 40-60 minutes like it's done in the group stages, quarters or semis, Leinster will stick with us pretty much the whole way. If we do get on top of them it won't be until the last five or 10 minutes.
"Players like Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip and great ball carriers in the loose. For us to beat them, we must stop them at source which is the set-piece. Once they start generating forward momentum they get into a pattern where they seem impossible to stop."
Northampton saw their European and Aviva Premiership double bid grind to a halt with last weekend's play-off semi-final defeat by Leicester.
Tonga'uiha, who is among five nominees for the European player-of-the-year award, admits it would be heartbreaking to end such a promising season empty handed.
"It would be a massive blow considering how hard we've worked together as a team and as a club," he said. "Saying that Leinster are a good team and we have to go out and do what we've been doing all season.
"We've forgotten about our loss to Leicester, but it was pretty important to have something of this magnitude after that game."
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