Mark Salter

Saracens smash into Euro final

Chris Ashton cuts through for the first of his two tries Chris Ashton cuts through for the first of his two tries

Saracens blasted their way through to their first European Cup final by thrashing Clermont 46-6 with six tries at Twickenham on Saturday.

Saracens got off to an absolute flier when ex-England wing Chris Ashton found himself in the open in the seventh minute. Five minutes later, they went further ahead when Clermont No 10 Brock James was judged to have deliberately thrown the ball out, conceding a penalty try and earning a yellow card. Clermont did well to not concede a point in that 10 minutes, and could have scored themselves if they had not been guilty of obstruction.

They came back hard at Saracens, but the Londoners' defence, led superbly by Namibian flank Jacques Burger – named Man of the Match for his 27 monster tackles – held strong. Breaking out with good play by Alex Goode and Ashton saw Owen Farrell bundled over to enable Saracens to go into the break 24-6 up.

From there, Clermont were chasing a game that disappeared over the horizon when Saracens were awarded a penalty on the halfway line and Marcelo Bosch was called up to hammer it over. Ashton added a second touchdown to take the record for the most tries scored in a European Cup season (11) and tries by Chris Wyles and Tim Streather capped Saracens' immense display.

Toulon, meanwhile, are two wins away from becoming the third team to record back-to-back title wins, starting with Munster on Sunday.

Toulon are without Bakkies Botha, Ali Williams and Chris Masoe, but their XV still boasts a host of international stars with Bryan Habana lining up in a back three also featuring Delon Armitage and Drew Mitchell. Steffon Armitage packs down in a back row alongside Juan Smith and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

Saracens – Tries: Chris Ashton (2), penalty try, Owen Farrell, Chris Wyles, Tim Streather. Conversions: Alex Goode (5). Penalties: Goode, Marcelo Bosch.
Clermont – Penalties: Morgan Parra (2).

Saracens 15  Alex Goode, 14  Chris Ashton, 13  Marcelo Bosch, 12  Brad Barritt, 11  David Strettle, 10  Owen Farrell, 9  Neil de Kock, 8  Billy Vunipola, 7  Jacques Burger, 6  Kelly Brown, 5  Mouritz Botha, 4  Steve Borthwick, 3  James Johnston, 2  Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16  Jamie George, 17  Richard Barrington, 18  Matt Stevens, 19  Alistair Hargreaves, 20  Jackson Wray, 21  Richard Wigglesworth, 22  Tim Streather, 23  Chris Wyles.

Clermont – 15  Lee Byrne, 14  Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Benson Stanley, 12  Wesley Fofana, 11  Napolioni Nalaga, 10  Brock James, 9  Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7  Damien Chouly, 6  Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4  Jamie Cudmore, 3  David Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1  Thomas Domingo.
Subs: 16  Ti'i Paulo, 17  Vincent Debaty, 18  Clement Ric, 19  Julien Pierre, 20  Gerhard Vosloo, 21 Thierry Lacrampe, 22  Mike Delany, 23  Seru Nakaitaci.

Photo: Harry Engels/Getty Images

Handré Pollard is shut down by the Blues in a 2015 match

Boks face fight for respect in 2017

South African teams need to start beating their New Zealand counterparts on a regular basis for the Springboks to feature in the World Cup-contender conversation, writes JON CARDINELLI.

Curwin Bosch against the Waratahs

Bosch is a diamond in the rough

The start to the Super Rugby season has provided few clear-cut answers to the Boks’ flyhalf conundrum, but in Curwin Bosch, SA rugby has a raw gem that needs to be nurtured, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Johan Ackermann

Ackers must be persuaded to stay

SA Rugby should be doing everything in its power to dissuade Lions coach Johan Ackermann from taking up an offer to head overseas, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

You may also like

Get our daily email update. Subscribe to the SA Rugby magazine newsletter: