Saracens too strong for Clermont again

Saracens secured back to back victories over Clermont Auvergne when they beat the French side 30-23 at Allianz Park in the Rugby Champions Cup.

The last meeting between the sides was in last season’s Heineken Cup final when Saracens finished as 46-6 winners at Twickenham in April.

England winger Chris Ashton kicked off the try fest as both sides battled for
supremacy. Zac Guildford snatched a levelling try before David Strettle raced
in before the break.

The Anglo-French clash was locked at 10-10 at half-time before the match was
set alight by the wingers. Guildford and Strettle traded scores before Ashton
pounced to clinch their maiden Champions Cup triumph.

The hosts got off to a flying-start when last season’s top European try scorer
Chris Ashton pounced to claim a try at the corner.

The man who scored 11 tries in last season’s competition got his first of
the new campaign after Saracens’ outside backs were set in motion.

Alex Goode released Strettle on the left wing before he fed Ashton inside,
his pass was knocked to the ground but the England wing collected and crashed
over.

Man-of-the-match Charlie Hodgson missed the conversion and he was made to
pay five minutes later when former All Black Guildford squirmed over.

Noa Nakaitaci showed electric pace to carve through the Sarries defence, he
was brought down just short and Guildford was on hand to pick up and squeeze
over for the score. Camille Lopez slotted the conversion from the touchline
to give his side a 7-5 lead.

Petrus du Plessis was guilty of handling in the ruck five minutes later and
Lopez knocked over his first penalty to extend Clermont’s lead.

The French side had their tails up in search of a second try before half-time,
but Strettle had other ideas. Richard Wigglesworth injected pace with a cheeky
quick tap, he gained 10 metres before feeding Strettle who dived under a covering
tackle to level the scores at the break.

The game sprung into life after a Hodgson penalty was cancelled out by a Lopez
drop-goal five minutes into the second period.

Guildford gave his side a seven-point advantage as he showed great athleticism
to race onto Ludovic Radoslavjevic’s box-kick. He out-leaped Ashton and strolled
over to claim his second converted try of the game.

But Strettle replied two minutes later to breathe new life into the Allianz
Park crowd. He avoided a covering tap-tackle to finish in the corner once more.

Lopez hit his second penalty of the day before the pendulum swung back into
Saracens’ favour. Hodgson hit an up and under into the swirling breeze, and
when Guildford failed to claim it, Ashton was on hand to claim the decisive
score.

Final Score Saracens 30 (10) Clermont Auvergne 23 (10)

Scorers

Saracens
Tries – Ashton 2, Strettle 2
Pen – Hodgson 2
Con – Hodgson 2
Drop –
Cards –

Clermont Auvergne
Tries – Guildford 2
Pen – Lopez 2
Con – Lopez 2
Drop – Lopez
Cards –

Teams

Saracens

Goode; Ashton, Wyles, Barritt, Strettle; Hodgson, Wigglesworth; Barrington, George, Du Plessis, Kruis, Hargreaves, Brown, Fraser, Vunipola.

Replacements: Brits, Gill, Johnston, Hamilton, Wray, De Kock, Farrell, Bosch.

Clermont Auvergne

Abendanon; Nakaitaci, Rougerie, Fofana, Guildford; Lopez, Radosavljevic; Domingo, Kayser, Zirakashvili, Cudmore, Vahaamahina, Lee, Bonnaire, Chouly.

Replacements: Ulugia, Chaume, Ric, Jacquet, Bardy, James, Lacrampe, Stanley.

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