Saracens put on a show to be champs of Europe

by AFP

Saracens boss Mark McCall said "there's no reason why we can't get better" after his side beat Clermont 28-17 to win back-to-back European Champions Cup titles.

Unlike last year's 21-9 final win over Clermont's French rivals Racing 92, where England's Owen Farrell kicked all of Saracens' points in a match where neither side managed a try, Saturday's clash at Murrayfield was a far more exciting contest.

Saracens, belying their reputation as a dour, forward-orientated team, almost scored a try in the second minute.

In any case, McCall's men were 12-0 up following the end of the opening quarter after Chris Ashton, bound for France with Toulon, scored a tournament career record 37th try and England lock George Kruis also crossed Clermont's line.

Clermont, who came into the match with a reputation for blistering starts, fought back thanks to Remi Lamerat's first-half try before English wing Nick Abendanon crowned a length of the field move for a superb score in the 51st minute.

Morgan Parra's penalty left Clermont just a point behind at 17-18 heading into the final quarter before Saracens pulled clear, with fullback Alex Goode's try seven minutes from time putting the London club two scores clear after Farrell converted.

Victory left Saracens, the reigning English champions, just two matches away from completing a 'double Double' and with the likes of Farrell (25) and man-of-the-match Billy Vunipola (24) still having plenty of rugby to look forward to barring injury.

"I think the pleasing thing today was it felt and looked like we had improved from last year," said McCall, whose side face Exeter in the English Premiership semi-final play-offs.

"It was a different kind of final from last year and allowed us to show different signs of ourselves," - Mark McCall. 

"I thought we showed a lot of great qualities. We think the age profile of the group is good and if we're hungry enough, we're hungry enough so there's no reason why we can't get better."


European Champions Cup final

Clermont 17

Tries: Lamerat, Abendanon

Cons: Parra 2

Pens: Parra

Saracens 28

Tries: Ashton, Kruis, Goode

Cons: Farrell 2

Pens: Farrell 3