Saracens break Racing hearts

2015-04-05 16:28
Marcelo Bosch (AFP)

Paris - Argentina centre Marcelo Bosch has kicked a last-gasp penalty to hand Saracens a dramatic 12-11 victory over Racing-Metro in Sunday's European Champions Cup quarter-final and set up a semi-final showdown with Clermont.

Clermont, who put Northampton to the sword 37-5 on Saturday, will host the last-four clash in St Etienne's 39,000-capacity Geoffroy Guichard stadium on the weekend of April 18-19.

Clermont -- losing finalists in 2013 -- will be seeking revenge after being on the wrong end of a 46-6 hammering by Saracens in last year's semi-final.

The second semi-final will feature three-time champions Leinster, who beat Bath 18-15, against either defending champions Toulon or Wasps, playing later.

Bosch revealed that Saracens kicking coach adopted a rather different approach to how the Argentinian should address his kicks.

"He tells me to think I am on the beach," he told BT Sport.

"I think it worked. I knew I had the wind in my face and I would not force the kick and just kept as relaxed as possible."

Racing's Welsh centre Jamie Roberts was left heartbroken.

"It's heartbreaking," he told BT Sports.

"To lose a match of that magnitude like that is devastating.

"I thought we had them when Max (Machenaud) put the penalty over (in the 71st minute)."

Charlie Hodgson opened the scoring for last season's beaten finalists Saracens with a sixth-minute penalty, with very little difference between two sides well drilled in defence in the opening exchanges.

Home worries were eased when Saracens' Scotland international Jim Hamilton, deputising for injured captain Alistair Hargreaves in the second row, was yellow-carded for cynically failing to release the ball close to the line.

Racing's Irish fly-half Jonathan Sexton, who had never lost an European knockout match having guided Leinster to the title three times, kicked for the corner.

From the resulting line-out the powerful Racing pack rolled into midfield, scrum-half Maxime Machenaud peeling off to crash over for a try from short range.

Sexton's conversion came back off the post and Hodgson then missed two kickable penalties as the kickers struggled with a downfield wind at the Yves-du-Manoir stadium.

Racing's hard-hitting midfield defence and set-piece superiority threatened to overwhelm Saracens, but the London club were aided by the Parisians' lack of discipline and a number of turnovers.

Saracens then had their first real try-scoring chance, winger Chris Ashton threading through a cross-field grubber that Chris Wyles just failed to latch onto with the whitewash beckoning.

Hodgson nailed a second penalty on the stroke of half-time after Antonie Claassen's indiscretion at a ruck to leave it 6-5 to the visitors at the interval.

Alex Goode took over the kicking duties from Hodgson and made no mistake with his first effort.

Machenaud then kicked two penalties to put Racing into a one-point lead, but a careless ruck infringement would prove costly, Bosch stepping up and booting a 43-metre penalty with aplomb to put Saracens into the last four.


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