Undefeated Saracens retain European Rugby Champions Cup

Beth Cruz
May 15, 2017

"It felt like we had improved from past year".

ASM Clermont Auvergne: S Spedding; D Strettle, A Rougerie, R Lamerat, N Abendanon; C Lopez, M Parra; R Chaume, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili; A Iturria, S Vahaamahina; D Chouly (c), P Yato, F Lee.

The English Premiership led throughout to follow up last season's final win over Racing 92 with another triumph.

Clermont fought ferociously, flirted with the sin-bin in desperate defence and pulled out their version of the try from the end of the earth from Nick Abendanon but still they ended up broken on the rocks, like so many others before.

Toulon-bound Chris Ashton confessed he felt a tinge of sadness despite helping Saracens lift the European Champions Cup for the second year in a row.

There were three fine tries - one from Chris Ashton to set a new record in European Cup rugby, another before half time from George Kruis and the match-winner from Goode in the closing stages but there could have been more.

Playing from behind against Saracens is one of the toughest tasks facing a side in Europe, yet Clermont forced themselves to do just that after falling to a 12-0 deficit early on. When Clermont full-back Spedding knocked on in his own 22, it gave Saracens another platform to attack from and this time they landed the killer blow when Goode ghosted through a gap.

Clermont, who were the last team to beat them in this competition back in the 2015 semi-finals, have now lost all three of their final appearences including the 2013 showpiece.

"When they are in the right areas, they come at you in wave after wave with big ball-runners - and big ball-runners with skill as well".

Nigel Owens wouldn't go back to the TMO however and Farrell converted leaving Clermont with just five minutes to make up eight points.

Sarries started the second half where they left off the first, with their foot firmly on the gas, Farrell kicking the first penalties of the game, on 50 and 57 minutes.

Clermont desperately needed a foothold in the game and they have too much class in their ranks not to find a response.

Omagh's Neil Brown makes his first appearance on the right wing while Grosvenor's influential Allen McCluggage returns to scrum-half.

Goode's perfectly weighted grubber was pounced upon by the 30-year-old, who ran in to bring up a landmark score.

McCall said ahead of today's final at BT Murrayfield: "Clermont, when they are at their very best, start games very strongly, get points ahead and they are very hard to claw back when that happens". They've got some unsafe outside backs, they play with a lot of width and win lots of turnovers. "But we were under a lot of pressure and Saracens mastered their game plan, they played for 80 minutes". But we are fully aware of the challenge of going to Sandy Park, it's going to be a huge test for us. "We look after each other and that's really important".

Try scorer Abendanon said: " This team has got a lot of belief. "It's not a nice feeling, but I'm assured we'll be there or thereabouts next year and we've got to hope next year is going to be our year".

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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