Rugby

Saracens reach Heineken final

2014-04-26 19:43
Tim Streather (left) and Marcelo Bosch (Gallo Images)

London - English side Saracens reached their first ever Heineken Cup final with a record 46-6 victory over last year's finalists Clermont at Twickenham on Saturday.

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Saracens, who were beaten at Twickenham by Toulon in last year's semi-final, ran in six tries with England wing Chris Ashton scoring two of them to break the record for tries in a Heineken Cup season with 11.

They will face either holders Toulon or two-time champions Munster who play their semi-final in Marseille on Sunday.

Ashton, whose form dropped off so much he lost his place in the England starting line-up earlier this season, said that he didn't mind who they played.

"We have been underdogs all season and we like that status," he said.

"We hadn't beaten many French sides in the competition but we were really up for this game.

"We are making progress each year in this competition, quarter-final two years ago (they were beaten by Clermont) the semis last year and now the final."

Clermont coach Vern Cotter was left mystified by the defeat and was upset by a controversial penalty try decision which helped the English side take a 14-3 lead.

"Tactically, Saracens played well but the penalty try hurt us and gradually we lost confidence," said Cotter.

"Nothing went right for us. It's a strange feeling."

Saracens made light of England flyhalf Owen Farrell being unable to kick because he had not fully recovered from a right foot injury he suffered a fortnight ago with those duties going to fullback Alex Goode.

Indeed the hosts went ahead in front of a disappointingly sparse Twickenham crowd through a try by Ashton in the eighth minute as the England wing was released by England centre Brad Barritt and ran in to touch down in the corner.

Goode converted brilliantly for 7-0.

The French side reduced the deficit four minutes later as Morgan Parra kicked a penalty to take his points total in the competition during his career to over the 250 mark.

Referee Nigel Owens made a huge call in the 14th minute when he not only sin-binned Brock James for deliberately knocking it over the deadball line but also awarded Saracens a penalty try as in his and the video referee's mind Marcelo Bosch would have scored a try had James not intervened.

While James departed shaking his head Goode converted from in front of the posts for 14-3 and boos rang out from the French club's supporters.

They were even less happy with Owens when they had a try by Benson Stanley ruled out because of obstruction by French lock forward Damien Chouly on Farrell.

Nevertheless the visitors emerged from those 10 minutes without James having not conceded a point and a penalty from Parra 12 minutes from half-time saw them move to within eight points at 14-6.

Saracens scored their third try of the match as benefiting from another referral to the video referee the ball was judged to have come off Farrell's knee and not his hand before he followed up to touch down.

Goode converted for 21-6 and then added a penalty in the 38th minute as a rampant Saracens left Clermont reeling.

Clermont were unable to get an early score in the second-half and it was Saracens who extended their lead as Bosch kicked a long range penalty in the 53rd minute for 27-6.

Clermont all but raised the white flag as they withdrew the ineffectual James and Parra but it had little impact as Ashton then broke the try record, set by Frenchman Sebastien Carrat in the 1997/98 season for Brive, running onto the ball to touch down.

Goode slipped up for once in missing the conversion.

The pain, though, was not over for the stunned French side as Ashton then played a pivotal role bursting through the centre and the ball got worked out to American Chris Wyles who went in in the corner. Goode converted to make it 39-6.

The English side were not in the mood to ease off and poured even more salt on the Clermont wound in the final minute as Tim Streather went over and Goode converted.

Read more on:    saracens  |  heineken cup  |  rugby
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