Saracens may have broadened their horizons in attack this season but Owen Farrell insists they have always played with greater adventure than given credit for.
One victory separates Saracens from a sixth Gallagher Premiership title after they crushed Northampton 38-15 in Saturday’s semi-final at StoneX Stadium.
Director of rugby Mark McCall described it as “our strongest defensive performance for years”, but it is in their willingness to attack that the club have evolved most significantly.
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Frustrated by last season’s defeat to Leicester in the Premiership final, they resolved to show more ambition for 2022-23 and have flourished as a consequence with only Saints scoring more tries in the regular season.
Farrell has been at the heart of the buccaneering with assistance from Alex Goode and Elliot Daly, but England’s captain denies that it is a radical change in direction for Saracens.
“There was always a perception about us before – and at times rightly so – that we were this team that just strangled teams and kicked everything,” Farrell said.
“But if you look back, in some of the finals we had against Exeter and Clermont, we played rugby.
“People were talking as if we didn’t play rugby, as if we just kicked everything and used the driving maul. I don’t know how people thought we won games, but we played rugby.
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“We would have patches of it during the season and then go back to fundamentals.
“We were trying to bring more of it out and the bits that we showed in the past before have showed us that we were ready for doing more of it. It felt like we were ready to do it, so that’s why we did.
“We’ve come from a place – and rightly so – that was built on solid foundations: a good kicking game and defence. And attack came off the back of that.
“That started a long time ago, even before I left school. That served us unbelievably well. I just feel we’ve been ready for a bigger jump this year.
“The key thing has been to take that into the bigger games and I’m glad we did that against Northampton.”
Farrell and Goode were the catalysts for Saracens’ dynamism against Saints, pulling the strings in a dazzling start to the play-off.
“It’s about picking our heads up and looking to see if it’s on. There’s obviously a percentage of how on it is. If it’s properly on we want to take it,” Farrell said.
“If we think we can take metres to score a try, get to halfway rather than kick it there, then that’s a chance that we want to take.
“We want to take obvious chances and we don’t want to be half in, half out. We don’t want to be indecisive. We want to be decisive.”