Super Saracens make European Champions Cup history
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Saracens 28 Clermont Auvergne 17
Saracens became only the fourth side in the history of the European Champions Cup to win back-to-back titles after a stunning victory in the final over French side Clermont Auvergne.
The Hendon-based club join Leicester Tigers, Leinster and Toulon in European rugby’s hall of fame.
Both sides showed the intensity we’ve been so accustomed to seeing during the campaign, but it was Saracens who attacked from the off and a Chris Ashton break after just two minutes tested the defence of Clermont, with only a last-ditch tackle stopping the winger from scoring.
However it didn’t take long for the Premiership side to break the deadlock and it was once again Ashton in the thick of it.
A training ground move following a rolling maul allowed full-back Alex Goode to supply the neat kick through for Ashton to score his 37th try in the European competition and take the scoring record outright.
A rare miss to convert from Owen Farrell kept the lead to just five points and the competition’s leading points scorer failed to increase the lead with a penalty soon after.
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But Sarries continued to press and they were duly rewarded once again, with George Kruis crossing from short range.
The conversion from Farrell extended the English club’s lead to 12 points midway through the first half, but also brought Clermont to life and they began to build phases.
A scrum deep in Sarries territory was the platform needed to reduce the arrears and centre Aurelien Rougerie breached the English defence and allowed midfield partner Remi Lamerat to dive over on the next phase.
Lopez converted to reduce the score to 12-7, giving Saracens the advantage going into the break, but Clermont emerged the brighter and despite a Farrell penalty, scored the second half’s first try when a Scott Spedding break in midfield opened up Sarries’ renowned wolf pack defence and and a deft offload out wide gave former Bath man Nick Abendanon an easy run in.
The conversion and a further Parra penalty soon after brought Clermont back to within one point at 18-17 as both sides began to call on replacements in the final quarter to gain the upper hand, but neither side looked like letting up.
Perseverance went the way of Saracens as a barrage of phases swept the Clermont defence deep in the French side’s half resulting in Sarries’ third try as fly-half Farrell used his forward dummy runners to open up the space for Goode to cross the whitewash in the final stages of the game.
Two further Farrell penalties took the game out of the Top 14 side’s reach and with it, Clermont’s record of falling at the final hurdle continues.
For Saracens, the 28-17 victory means part one of the double-double is complete and will go down as arguably the best side the European competition has ever seen.
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Bosch, Barritt, Wyles, Farrell, Wigglesworth, M Vunipola, George, Koch, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Brits, Lamositele, Du Plessis, Hamilton, Burger, Spencer, Lozowski, Taylor.
Clermont Auvergne: Spedding, Strettle, Rougerie, Lamerat, Abendanon, Lopez, Parra, Chaume, Kayser, Zirakashvili, Iturria, Vahaamahina, Chouly, Yato, Lee.
Replacements: Ulugia, Falgoux, Jarvis, Jedrasiak, Lapandry, Radosavljevic, Fernandez, Penaud.
Referee: Nigel Owens.