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Saracens retain European title as Ashton sets try landmark

14 May 2017
Saracens retain European title as Ashton sets try landmark

Clermont had fitness concerns over Morgan Parra, Rémi Lamerat, Aurélien Rougerie and Davit Zirakashvili after their Champions Cup semifinal defeat of Leinster at Stade Marcel Michelin, but all have returned to training since.

"We lost two finals in a week in 2014 against Toulon and Northampton, and the loss to Northampton was excruciating".

Clermont, beaten by Toulon in the 2013 and 2015 finals, will have to regather for another assault on the French championship, where they now lie second.

Ashton needs one try to become the competition's all-time leading scorer, now level with former France winger Vincent Clerc on 36.

Saracens tackle Top 14 side Clermont Auvernge in the final of the European Champions Cup at Edinburgh's Murrayfield on Saturday, and there will be a familiar face in the French team's ranks.

Mark McCall's side have not had an ideal build-up to the fixture withsix of their squad called up to the British and Irish Lions' 'messy Monday' just days before the match.

They used Billy Vunipola as a decoy after a lineout on halfway, Owen Farrell running behind the No8 and straightening up for Marcelo Bosch to free Chris Ashton, who had come across to the left from his wing.

Sarries, who take on Exeter in the Premiership play-off semi-final next weekend, ultimately sealed a 100th win in European competition courtesy of Goode's converted try, with Farrell's penalty the final say. "We're going to have a good party tonight". "We don't know what we're missing but hopefully one day it turns our way".

"It's not a nice feeling to be the first to lose all three finals - we've just got to hope that next year's going to be our year".

Clermont Auvergne wing, David Strettle: "When you play a final against your former team it's always a special moment".

"What I think will happen is the game will be close for large periods".

Saracens were playing with such pace, width and variety that Clermont were disoriented.

Since their Six Nations clan returned in March, Saracens have played some of the best rugby in their history to dispatch both Glasgow Warriors and Munster in this competition, the latter of which came in a mightily impressive showing at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The two sides have clashed seven times in the tournament before and he has figured in all of them.

It must be said that the Sarries out-half was instrumental throughout the game and indeed the season, as his side joined the pantheon of great European rugby teams.

His 12th minute try - his 37th in European competition, a new record eclipsing Vincent Clerc's previous mark - when he latched on to Alex Goode's through kick was classic Ashton, and he is now the only Saracens player who consistently makes lacerating breaks. The Saracens wing is now level with Vincent Clerc on 36 tries.

They will also have the backing of most of the neutrals at Murrayfield.

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"We are nowhere near the finished article, we still have a long way to go, but as players we pride ourselves on being able to stay in the fight the whole game".