Rugby Union: Saracens back Alex Goode excited for repeat of last season’s European Champions Cup final against Clermont Auvergne
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Sarries beat French rivals in May’s final in Edinburgh
Alex Goode is looking forward to renewing old rivalries when Saracens host Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup on Sunday in a repeat of last season’s final.
The sides last met at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in May, with Sarries winning 28-17 to successfully defend their European crown.
Though there is no silverware on offer for this weekend’s meeting at Allianz Park, both sides will be doing all they can to earn a psychological advantage ahead of the return Pool Two match in France a week later.
And fullback Goode is expecting a tough test against Clermont, despite their struggles this season in the French Top 14, where Franck Azema’s side currently sit in eighth.
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“I think with Clermont they have a very physical and big pack as you’d expect for a French team, but they also have some phenomenal athletes along with some other really exciting, dangerous players out wide,” the England international told the club website.
“In their back row, the likes of Fritz Lee and Peceli Yato are highly skilled and brilliant athletes.
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“They’ve also got a plethora of talent as well as guys who can strike from anywhere and make something happen as we found out in the Champions Cup final against them.”
Saracens will face Clermont without Maro Itoje, who broke his jaw in the 20-19 Aviva Premiership defeat at Harlequins on Sunday.
It means the lock will likely be out until February, with his absence a big blow for a Sarries team currently struggling for form.
Heading into the clash with Clermont, the north Londoners have lost their last five in all competitions and have not won since October 28.
But Goode is confident the Allianz Park outfit can end their poor form by beating their French rivals on Sunday.
“You don’t become a bad side overnight after a couple of losses and it’s a great opportunity for us to go out there and put a massive performance in against a top club in Europe and show just what a good side we are,” he added.
Saracens currently sit atop Pool Two in the European Champions Cup having opened their defence with bonus-point wins over Northampton Saints and Ospreys.
However, they are sure to face a stern test against Clermont this weekend as they look to maintain their perfect start.