Champions Cup: Saracens 14 Clermont Auvergne 46
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Clermont took out their frustration over the chaotic postponement of their Champions Cup clash at Allianz Park by inflicting a record defeat on holders Saracens.
Kick-off was delayed by 26 hours to Monday due to adverse weather conditions, resulting in a furious statement from the French giants who claimed their fans had been treated “as if they were toys” in a “completely absurd” process.
Also tucked away in the lengthy attack on Champions Cup organisers was a vow to take out their frustration on Saracens and this they did in sensational fashion, led by their marauding Fijian wing Alivereti Raka.
Raka wrapped-up his hat-trick inside the opening 25 minutes to capitalise on a feeble defensive display from a team that missed a total of 37 tackles to crash to a sixth successive defeat.
Saracens’ last loss in Europe was against Clermont in the 2015 semi-finals, a run spanning 20 matches, and an alarming night in north London produced possibly the most humiliating experience in continental action.
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It was their greatest losing margin in the competition and also marked their highest number of points conceded as they surrendered first place in Pool Two.
Raka ran in the second fastest hat-trick in Europe that began when he powered through Jamie George to touch down in the 13th minute.
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Wesley Fofana, Fritz Lee and Scott Spedding burst through the home defence with ease as the prelude to Raka plundering his second try, burrowing over from close range while riding a tackle from George.
By the time Raka completed his hat-trick, Saracens had missed a startling 16 tackles and the Fijian’s third made for the grimmest viewing of all.
Scrum-half Morgan Parra ran flat on to line-out ball and having sped through the first line of black shirts, he found the supporting left wing for a try that was scored far too easily.
Saracens replied with a penalty try awarded from a line-out drive, but when Parra added to his three conversions with a penalty they trailed 24-7 and faced a mountain to climb having proved unable to capitalise on Lee’s sin-binning.
Raka’s spellbinding evening continued five minutes after half-time as he set off from inside his own half, evading four tackles before finally being caught, but he was still able to sling the scoring pass to Flip van der Merwe.
Failed tackles continued to haunt Saracens and this time Juan Figallo and Jackson Wray were at fault as Fofana skipped over for the visitors’ fifth try, before Parra broke the 40-point mark with a penalty.
George Kruis touched down, side-stepping his way over, but Saracens’ nightmare continued when Isaia Toeava helped himself to a simple run-in.