Saracens retain European crown in Scotland

Adjust Comment Print

Get a full report and reaction.

Scots Jim Hamilton and Duncan Taylor have been named on the Saracens bench for the European Rugby Champions Cup final with Clermont Auvergne on Saturday at BT Murrayfield (5pm).

Saracens: tries: Ashton, Kruis, Goode; conversions: Farrell 2; penalties: Farrell 3.

It was also an historic afternoon for winger Chris Ashton, who grabbed the game's opening try to take his European try-scoring tally to 37 and out on his own in front of Vincent Clerc in the all-time stats.

Saracens gradually tightened the noose though and their relentless goalline pressure eventually opened the way for Goode to score their third try seven minutes from time.

The victory made Saracens the fourth team to retain Europe's premier club title after Leicester, Leinster and Toulon while perennial bridesmaids Clermont became the first to play in three finals and lose them all. They're a big physical team with a strong set-piece and a deadly attack as well.

The only surprise was it took the Londoners 13 minutes to make their breakthrough. Camille Lopez kicked long and, after a rolling maul was held up over the line, Clermont did not try to drive the scrum but moved the ball behind.

Clermont carry the ignominy of losing 11 of their 12 Top 14 finals, along with falling at the final hurdle of the Champions Cup - both times to Toulon - in 2013 and 2015.

Farrell's kick came back off the upright while his next attempt from nearly half-way fell a yard short.

And they added a second try in the 22nd minute. With Clermont still scrambling back into covering positions, Kruis arrived at the flawless moment to crash over.

Clermont had fitness concerns over Morgan Parra, Rémi Lamerat, Aurélien Rougerie and Davit Zirakashvili after their Champions Cup semifinal defeat of Leinster at Stade Marcel Michelin, but all have returned to training since.

Celtics at Wizards: Watch It!
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards meet at 8 p.m. tonight at Verizon Center. In the five home games, Washington has held opponents to 40.9 percent shooting, the second lowest among all playoff teams.

The intensity that had been missing from Clermont in the early stages of the first period was there in abundance as the second half kicked off.

Farrell is the kicker the rest of European rugby fears and his boot will be the best way for Sarries to keep Clermont in check tomorrow.

Yet the French side were not done yet.

And while a thrilling length-of-the-field score - finished off by Nick Abendanon - brought the Top 14 side within a point, Saracens kept their cool to deliver the killer blow late on through Goode.

Saracens were playing with such pace, width and variety that Clermont were disoriented.

"That being said, I think if we look back on the squad that we had for the Champions Cup Final previous year there are probably likely to be 19 out of that 23-man squad available this time, which is a good sign". "We really attacked the game for the last 20 minutes, kicked behind them and put them under pressure, and I think we got what we deserved at the end. They are for me the number one team in Europe", said Strettle.

The current Aviva Premiership Rugby champions are still on course for a historic double-double - with a domestic semi-final at Exeter Chiefs next weekend to look forward to after this triumph.

England worldwide Billy Vunipola added: "It's such an awesome group of guys". "We just couldn't get away from them".

"The age profile of the group is good and the manner in which we won was encouraging".

When asked if he had thought about their legacy, the 30-year-old said: "To be honest, it's not something that we actually talk about. We went after them in the last 10 to 15 minutes and got our rewards".