Saracens veteran Alex Goode says his side produced one of their best performances of the season in the final against Sale Sharks and hailed the showing of his captain Owen Farrell.
While Goode admits his side’s Premiership title success was driven by the regret of “not throwing a punch” during last year’s Twickenham final defeat, he hailed the team’s display this time around.
Mark McCall’s side charged to their sixth title scoring four tries in their 35-25 victory, their first bit of silverware since being relegated for salary cap breaches three years ago.
Best rugby we’ve played all year
Goode says the six-time champions were determined to avoid suffering frustration for a second successive season, having failed to score a try in a forgettable 15-12 reverse against the Tigers.
“The feeling of winning drives a lot of people,” said the Saracens veteran. “I love it. It’s really special.
“It was really disappointing for us last year with what happened. We set out in pre-season to make sure that we didn’t get that feeling again, not throwing a punch in a big game.
“We didn’t give the best account of ourselves, and (this year) it was a really great example of doing what we’ve done all year and keep playing and keep going.
“We saw some of the best rugby we’ve played all year.
“There was some brilliant defence at the end, but before that it was the courage and bravery to keep playing.”
Owen Farrell’s performance
The veteran full-back praised the influence of Saracens and England captain Farrell, who was named man of the match.
“He’s playing unbelievably well, but he’s always been a huge big-match player,” said Goode. “How many finals has he got man of the match?
“He’s a competitor, and it’s a joy to play with him when you know he’s going to stand up and be counted and take the fight to them.”
Manu Tuilagi peaking
Meanwhile, Sale Sharks threatened to spring a surprise in only the club’s second Premiership final. They failed to emulate the feat of the club’s victorious 2006 side, but produced an encouraging performance in the capital containing a standout display from Manu Tuilagi.
Sale boss Alex Sanderson believes the England centre is peaking at the right time, moving towards the Rugby World Cup in France later this year.
“Manu’s playing his best rugby,” said Sanderson. “He’s at his most robust.
“We said this was the aim two-and-a-half years ago for him to be playing his best rugby going into the World Cup, and we’ve achieved that.
“But he is just one of 22, 23 players that I’m immensely proud of.”
Sale captain Jono Ross, who played his last match before retirement, believes the club have exciting times ahead.
“I think it’s the start of an era,” said the South African back-rower.
“I don’t see why this team can’t be here fighting for titles year in, year out.
“There’s a lot of youth in this group, and sometimes youth is ignorance. They all took it in their stride, very relaxed before the game, no-one seemed overawed. I think this team will grow.”