Saracens put in a brave performance against French powerhouse Clermont in the European Champions Cup semi-final. Epitomising the English club’s desire was monster forward Maro Itoje, who brushed aside Clermont openside Julien Bardy whilst on a powerful surge.
Their determination wasn’t enough on the day, as Clermont won 13-9 in a close fought and very tactical affair not short in physicality or passion from either side.
Clermont and French international Wesley Fofana, well known for his memorable tries, scored the only 5-pointer of the game as box-kicking and territory gain was the order of the day from each side, with impressive performances from both scrum-halves.
Itoje was covering behind the defensive line when he gathered clearance from Clermont halfback, Ludovic Radosavljevic, whilst under pressure from the French side’s chasers.
After an impressive take, Itoje set his sights on gaining yards and began to build up a head of steam, that was until he made contact with the shoulder of Bardy anyway.
The Clermont flanker is a renowned tackler, rarely seen to lose a physical contest, however on this occassion he came off second best, and looked a little dazed whilst trying to find his feet.
Toulon defeated Leinster 25-15 in extra-time in the second semi-final, and will meet Clermont in the European Champions Cup Final on the 2nd of May at Twickenham, which is bound to be an extremely physical and thrilling encounter.
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