Leicester 18-22 Saracens, Aviva Premiership Final, May 28
Youngs impressed by Brits factor
May 29, 2011
Leicester's Tom Croft and Marcos Ayerza combine to halt Saracens' Schalk Brits during the Aviva Premiership Final © Getty Images
Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs acclaimed Schalk Brits' "phenomenal" man-of-the-match performance after the Tigers failed in their quest for a third successive Premiership title.
South African hooker Brits was at the heart of Saracens' memorable Twickenham triumph, creating the game's only try for wing James Short and proving a colossus in attack and defence. And his impact was not lost on Tigers scrum-half Youngs as seven-time Premiership champions Leicester began licking their wounds.
"Schalk Brits was just phenomenal, a man possessed," said Youngs. "If anything, he was probably the difference between the two sides. Saracens fully deserved the win. They dominated us in the first half, taking their points, and we couldn't get the ball.
"We had no territory in that first 40 minutes, but we were still in the game at half-time. We just had to get hold of the ball and we got back on track, but I thought their defence was outstanding." It proved a frustrating afternoon for Youngs, who was sin-binned just five minutes into the contest for illegally halting a Saracens attack.
"The referee is the boss. I have got a lot of respect for Wayne Barnes, he is a very good referee," Youngs said. "I have no complaints. Whatever he decides, that goes. Whether I think it's right or wrong, it doesn't make a difference. He's the boss."
Leicester hammered away at Saracens' line during a frenzied finale, going through more than 30 phases, but Brits and company were not to be denied. And Tigers were also left to reflect on two missed penalties in the third quarter from their England fly-half Toby Flood, who kicked six, yet could not match his opposite number Owen Farrell's 100% success-rate with the boot. Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill conceded that Saracens deserved their victory.
"We are disappointed to lose, but we have to congratulate Saracens. They played well," he said. "Sometimes you lose, that's sport. It's not an exact science. We've been a few seasons with nothing in the (trophy) cabinet before.
"We don't have a divine right to win things. We came up short, but it has not been a disastrous season. We had our chances to win it, but they played well. We found it hard to break them down and they scored the only try, so it is disappointing.
"I think they hit us hard and opened holes in us. You have to give them credit, they probably deserved to win. It is disappointing, but it is not a failure. We were very close in Europe this season, and we lost by four points in the Premiership final and we could have won it."
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