Now that the head coaches have announced their squads for the final, there is no need for us to change our minds about the result. It will be a third consecutive win for Saracens.
By training, coaches have to focus on the plusses in their previews and ignore the minuses. So Gerard Mullen makes no mention of the absence of Jess Breach, which is a disappointment to all of us. She couldn’t win the game off her own bat, but her two tries in the semi show what a difference she makes to the effectiveness of the team. Heather Cowell and Beth Wilcock are two fine wingers, and the return of Chloe Rollie at the back adds to their fire-power, but that is not where the game is to be won and lost.
Whenever Sarries take the field the question is: can the opposition hold the forwards in check? Both starting packs contain five Red Roses, but Sarries have the edge with two Canadian caps in the second row and especially the devastating back row of Vicky Fleetwood, Marlie Packer and Poppy Cleall, who is in rather fine form at the moment.
Somehow Quins have got to negate that pressure; it won’t be easy.
Other changes see Holly Aitchison restored to inside centre for the champions; she brings a wealth of skill to midfield. Against her Rachael Burford and Lagi Tuima form a potentially decisive partnership. That area of the field will be the second key to deciding the fixture.
The clubs have met in the two previous finals of the Premier 15s – last year’s of course failed to take place.
In the first at Ealing Trailfinders Quins fought back magnificently in the last quarter, hoping to rescue a game that had swung against them. Sarries had to defend like mad in the closing moments and they held out 24-20.
In the second final at Northampton they found life less stressful, and walked off with a convincing win (33-17).
This third final has been at the top of Quins’ to-do list all season. The problem is, they need to be clear in mind and spirit as they enter the field of battle. Any sense of a hoodoo must be put firmly aside.
Sarries to win yet again. If they don’t, I’ll need to buy a chocolate hat so my digestive system doesn’t suffer too much.
Then the RFU can dream up ways of ensuring a different cast-list for future finals.
McKenna; Clapp (captain), Casey, Aitchison, Gregson; Harrison, Swords; Botterman, Campbell, B. Cleall; de Goede, E. Taylor, Fleetwood, M. Packer, P. Cleall
Bench: Rettie, Clark, Rose, Galligan, Evans, Hayward, Corrigan, Laqeretabua
Rollie; Wilcock, Tuima, Burford (captain), Cowell; Scott, Riley; Cornborough, Cokayne, Brown; Ward, Fletcher; Brooks, Mew, Beckett
Bench: Dobson, Edwards, Robinson; Green, Viksten, Eddie, L. Packer, Mayhew
Kick-off 4 pm