Saracens beat Clermont 28-17 in Edinburgh on Saturday to claim their second straight European Champions Cup title. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The result sees Saracens become only the fourth club in Europe to retain their title.
The game at Murrayfield was an arm-wrestle from start to finish. Ultimately, it was Saracens who showed superior power and precision to win the big moments and the contest.
South Africa-born centre Brad Barritt impressed as both a captain and a player. The Saracens pack, driven by England No 8 Billy Vunipola, and other South Africans such as Vincent Koch and Michael Rhodes had the upper hand early on. It was from this platform that the English side scored two tries and went to the break with a 12-7 lead.
Clermont fought hard to defend their line, though. The efforts of players like No 8 Fritz Lee ensured that the French club didn't fall too far behind.
Nick Abendanon scored in the 53rd minute and Morgan Parra converted to see Clermont trailing by a single point. An Owen Farrell penalty was cancelled out when Parra bisected the uprights at the other end of the park. Clermont refused to give in.
Saracens' substitutes, most notably former Springboks Schalk Brits and Schalk Burger, made a telling impact in the final quarter. After a sustained period on attack, Alex Goode crossed the tryline and Farrell converted.
That kick took Saracens eight points clear of Clermont. The French club had an opportunity to reduce the deficit in the 76th minute, but Camille Lopez's penalty attempt drifted wide.
Farrell had the final say, though, when he kicked a penalty goal shortly before full-time.
Clermont – Tries: Rémi Lamerat, Nick Abendanon. Conversions: Morgan Parra (2). Penalty: Parra.
Saracens – Tries: Chris Ashton, George Kruis, Alex Goode. Conversion: Owen Farrell. Penalties: Farrell (3).
Clermont – 15 Scott Spedding, 14 David Strettle, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Rémi Lamerat, 11 Nick Abendanon, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Damien Chouly (c), 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Arthur Iturria, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphael Chaume
Subs: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 22 Pato Fernandez, 23 Damien Penaud
Saracens – 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Duncan Taylor
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images