Leinster have found their nemesis, and the next few seasons should be class 1 year ago

Leinster have found their nemesis, and the next few seasons should be class

"Real life doesn't fit into little boxes that were drawn for it." - Elijah Price, Unbreakable

Johnny Sexton's thousand-yard stare, hugs for Sean O'Brien and a shrug of the shoulders for Jack McGrath. Leinster headed for the showers as Saracens stayed out on the pitch and partied.

This was not how the surge for that fifth star was supposed to go.

As soon as Leinster beat Racing 92 in Bilbao, last season, talk began about claiming the province's fifth European Cup. They had been to four finals, in Europe (five if you include the Challenge Cup), and had won each time. This is what Leinster do.

Unfortunately for them, they came up against a Saracens team with a hell-bent belief that their name was already seared onto the trophy.

Every team, and every player, will head to a final telling themselves that this is their year. Saracens played as if affronted with anyone that might think otherwise.

Two moments of class from the Leinster backline were the only times Saracens looked in big trouble. That and a Cian Healy surge, down the right wing, in the second half were Leinster's big moments. Saracens owned most of the rest.

Brad Barritt was named man-of-the-match but seven or eight men could have shared it. Barrett was middle and crash-balled Leinster to a pulp. Vincent Koch came off the bench and proved a menace. Maro Itoje was lucky to avoid a second yellow card but was a nuisance for Leinster throughout.

And then you had Will Skelton and George Kruis. Both men delivered big turnovers and won their side penalties in crucial positions. Liam Williams swung the match with a try-saving on Garry Ringrose that he then turned into a turnover.

And then there was Billy Vunipola. Two interceptions that snapped defence into attack, and drained Leinster. A try that was scored when it was him versus four Leinster defenders. When he is on form, Saracens and England are grotesque handfuls. Coming at you relentlessly and offloading from a sitting position When you finally get him down.

Billy Vunipola

That is not to say Leinster were punctured and pummelled throughout. They looked to be well on course for that fifth trophy when they went 10-0 ahead, on 30 minutes, and had a man advantage.

They let that lead slip but came out charging after the break. Healy, James Ryan and James Lowe were all excellent, and Robbie Henshaw was just a beat back.

That Leinster leave Newcastle stewing with regret shows how close they came to beating this Saracens side.

Mark McCall's side were deserved winners but they will meet Leinster again.

That is the most tantalising prospect of the whole weekend.

When Leinster beat Saracens in the Champions Cup semi final, last year, the English side knew they had found their nemesis.

They flew out of Dublin, last April, and got to work. Regathered and retooled.

At St James' Park, they met their nemesis again but won the day.

This war is only beginning.

Marseille 2020 awaits.