Rhodes: Saracens prepared to do battle with Clermont

  • Rhodes: Saracens prepared to do battle with Clermont

Rhodes: Saracens prepared to do battle with Clermont

And if they can extend that fantastic run through next Saturday's Premiership play-off semi-final away to Exeter Chiefs, and the final at Twickenham on 27 May, the London club will emulate Leicester Tigers in 2001 and 2002 by completing the "double double" of English league and European Cup. Some of it on my part has been life-changing. It's going to be hard to leave all this behind, but life moves on. "Clermont came back and put them under pressure but you always just knew that Saracens would hold on and their constant pressure just paid off".

"I won't lie, I'm pretty happy about the record".

They become only the fourth club in history to successfully defend Europe's premier competition while victory sees them extend their unbeaten run in the tournament to 18 games.

Clermont were fortunate to a try-saving tackle from Nick Abendanon that they weren't 5-0 down in the opening minute, yet just five minutes later they conceded the game's opening try to Chris Ashton.

After the match a procession of their players lined up to be interviewed on the pitch and to a man they referenced the togetherness of the squad as being key to the victory.

Goode found captain Brad Barritt in support and, after he had made ground, lock Kruis - one of six England players in Saracens' starting XV picked for the British and Irish Lions upcoming tour of New Zealand - came from deep and crashed over in the 21st minute, with Farrell converting.

Saracens continued to push and got their reward as George Kruis crashed over on 22 minutes.

Holders Saracens have won one and lost one of their two previous finals, while Clermont have lost in their two final appearances; no club has played in three finals without winning at least one. We could easily have lost our edge by not making our dominance pay, but there was never a chance of that happening.

After the frustration of missing the entire global season through injury, Duncan Taylor is desperate to get back on a BT Murrayfield pitch which saw him score one of the great Scotland tries the last time he graced it.

Their return to the top of the French game coincided with the emergence of Saracens as a genuine European force at the start of the decade, so this final at Murrayfield feels like the clash we've been waiting for: Europe's two heavyweights in the biggest game of them all. "We look after each other and that's really important".

"For us it's about getting ourselves in the right place to be able to perform at that high level to bring the best out in each other so we can go out there and try to do it again".

Defeat was another bitter pill for Clermont.

Clermont carry the ignominy of losing 11 of their 12 Top 14 finals, along with falling at the final hurdle of the Champions Cup - both times to Toulon - in 2013 and 2015.

Their head coach Franck Azema said: "We're disappointed of course".

The South African-born England global said: "One thing we pride ourselves on at Saracens is being relentless and being resilient".

"We just need to be committed to the whole day and try to make the most of opportunities we get".