Talking Points: Ford v Farrell and Top 14 play-off battle

Leicester Tigers take on Saracens in a battle of old versus new champions in the Premiership Rugby Final on Saturday.

Leicester Tigers take on Saracens in a battle of old versus new champions in the Premiership Rugby Final on Saturday.

Twickenham will play hosts as the top two in the regular season do battle as Tigers search for an 11th title but their first since 2013.

Their challengers Saracens are looking for an immediate return to the summit of English rugby after being promoted last season having won four of the last eight finals.

In France, four teams are squaring off in the Top14 semi-finals with a chance of silverware tantalisingly close.

Here are five key talking points for the weekend ahead:

Saracens stalwarts line up for Leicester

Mark McCall’s side will see some familiar faces staring back at them when the match kicks off at 3pm tomorrow.

Richard Wigglesworth has come into the Leicester Tigers line-up to face the side with whom he won five Premiership titles.

England international Chris Ashton is also named amongst the backs as the league’s leading try-scorer faces one of his old teams.

The Rhino v The Pearl

Two of England’s brightest stars will do battle in the forward pack as Leicester Tigers captain Ellis Genge squares off against Maro Itoje.

The pair are known to speak their mind off the pitch, but on it, they let their rugby do the talking.

Itoje and his second-row partner Nick Isiekwe have combined for 24 lineout steals this season, while the Tigers have the best defensive record in the league, having conceded the fewest tries.

Ford v Farrell

It is a decision that has left England head coach Eddie Jones scratching his head many a time, but this weekend no one is missing out as George Ford and Owen Farrell play against each other at No.10.

Ford leads the points-scoring charts in the league having scored 220 of Leicester Tiger’s 726 points this season.

While Farrell is the most reliable kicker in the league converting 84% of the attempts he takes, no one who has taken 10 more or kicks has a better return.

Dupont and Ntamack eye more silverware

France’s most successful side Toulouse will come up against one of the smallest clubs in the league for the first spot in the Top 14 final under the Friday night lights.

Defending champions Toulouse have won 21 titles to Castres’ five and boast a whole host of French stars including the deadly halfback pairing of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.

France international Mathieu Babillot captains Castres who have a strong Southern Hemisphere presence.

Fine margins in the second semi-final

With the first semi-final boasting 26 titles, Montpellier v Bordeaux is more a humble affair, with Montpellier never having claimed the top prize.

Bordeaux have twice won the Top 14, most recently in 1991, and triumphed in both meetings between the two sides this season, but form suggests the play-off is set to be a nail-biting affair.

Only five points separated the semi-finalists in their matches this season with Bordeaux edging the most recent encounter 23-22, 2022 Grand Slam winner Maxime Lucu kicking the decisive penalty in the final minute.