Sunday Apr 27, 2014 Saracens fly through to Cup Final after dominant performance vs Clermont

Saracens fly through to Cup Final after dominant performance vs Clermont
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Saracens cruised through to the Heineken Cup Final following a physically dominant performance against Clermont at Twickenham. They reach the final for the first time, where they will hope to back up their 46-6 victory with a win over champions Toulon.

Saracens flew out the blocks and put in a mammoth physical effort in the first twenty minutes at HQ. Namibian Jacques Burger and South African Schalk Brits in particular were everywhere, with Burger chopping down runners and Brits adding his usual finesse with ball in hand.

Man of the Match Burger made 27 tackles in what was one of the finest tackling displays ever seen. 

“You talk about putting your body on the line, there’s no one that does it more than him. When you see people hitting like that it makes you want to do it,” said teammate Owen Farrell.

“I know if I was playing against him, you’d be looking for where he is all the time because you wouldn’t want him hitting you from the blindside,” he added.

By halftime Saracens were 24-6 up, following a Chris Ashton try and a contentious Nigel Owens awarded Penalty Try and yellow card for Clermont flyhalf Brock James. They also scored through Farrell, who eventually got on the end of a nice bit of play down the right hand flank. 

Ashton picked up an opportunistic try in the second half, taking him to a record tally for this seasons tournament, and his second of the match. With under ten minutes left, he got his hands on the ball again and sparked a well created try for Chris Wyles, as Clermont looked dead and buried.

Tim Streather added a try late in the game as Saracens completed a very impressive showing that totally blew the French side off the park. They’ll face the Top 14 leaders in the final, following Toulon’s victory over Munser in the second Semi Final earlier today.

Below are quick highlights of the match, featuring the tries that were scored

37 Comments

  •  drg
    drg

    @matt you might be right, but he'll still look like a tool when he does drop it.. and it'll be a huge focal point in his career... 'Remember that time he went as red as the English rose when the ash splash went wrong'...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    You haven't really disputed what Kanpai said as much as just say that Ashton is the best out of an 'ok/average' bunch... In terms of England wingers, he is no top dog yet...

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    I don't think that they're moral would have dropped THAT significantly, still 65 minutes to go and only 11 points down. In the 2011 final Leinster would have had every reason to give up 22-6 down at halftime, instead they scored 27 unanswered points. The most moral sapping aspect for Clermont would have be having to face that relentless defence, so even if it was only 5 tries instead of 6 I don't think that would have made the win any less impressive

    Reply
  •  woodsy13
    woodsy13

    I suppose making and supporting breaks up the middle, setting up tries with long passes, improvising with grubber kicks to score, and scoring in the opposite corner of the pitch show he's not very creative.

    Reply
  • Brilliant. Got to feel for him being from the same country as Bismarck though. Such a lovely man as well, came and shook hundreds of fans hands after the match (myself included)

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Sort of with Reality on this one Matt, but only because that is the only thing I ever hear a Kiwi mention, it's that 'one forward pass' rather than, 'everything AND that one forward pass'... Luck is one thing, downright; at best, eyebrow-raising refereeing (as Reality put it) is certainly another. As for the Whining 2 years on, if France had beaten NZ in 2011, we'd still be hearing about that 'forward pass'. I think as well, the way France went from dire underdogs to making the finals and playing the better game in 2011 makes it a harder pill for them to swallow than an evenly matched quarter final game in 2007 where a forward pass changed the outcome.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    Having said that I don't like it, I will now switch sides to say that I don't think he will ever cost either side 'in a big way'. My reasoning is that he doesn't ALWAYS do it. For example, his first try he had the time and space to do it, but didnt. My guess would be that he is aware of the risk (you'd have to be dead not to), and considered it to be too high in the opening minutes of a game like this one. So he may eventually drop one, but my guess is that it'll be a score that they really could have done fine without anyway.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    In my memory they got more than just a favourable forward pass call in 2007. But either way it turned out to be the difference. I wouldn't ever say that they got a fair deal in 2011, but I think still whining about it 2 years later is a bit pathetic when the luck they got the previous time, at home, is taken into account.

    Reply
  •  reality
    reality

    I'm inclined to think it was a deliberate knock into touch when seen in ultra slow-motion, but whether it was deliberate or not that penalty try isn't just a harsh call - it's simply incorrect. Penalty tries are to be given where a try probably would have been scored had it not been for the illegal intervention, and in this case the Saracens player was already on the ground and there was no one else nearby ready to ground it, so a try would almost definitely NOT have been scored if James hadn't done what he did. A card and penalty would have been debatable but the penalty try is just wrong. Ridiculous from Nigel.

    Reply
  •  reality
    reality

    Matt, the French got away with one forward pass in the 2007 quarter-infal but it's not like New Zealand didn't get away with stuff in that match as well. McCaw, for example, as per usual got away with murder for the whole match which I'd argue makes up for that forward pass. Then France were completely screwed over in the 3rd place play-off, so I don't remember them being helped that much. Then, for 2011, outside of New Zealand it's pretty much universally accepted that Craig Joubert had at best an eyebrow-raising performance so I think they really are justified in complaining about a referee's performance costing them in that case.

    Reply
  •  upthelowend
    upthelowend

    ...that made me laugh more than i'm prepared to admit. Re. the ash splash, i'm not entirely against the whole showboating aspect of it, if you've done the work you've earned it, but one day he's gonna spill that ball and cost his team (England or sarries) in a big way.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    I don't like the Ash Splash particularly, I think it is unnecessary and has something of the football mindset about it. However, since we only see it when he scores, he could get his knob out and rub it on the camera if he wants, so long as he brings in the points for England.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    This might be true. But I think the French might be on thin ice complaining about refereeing performances in world cups costing them. Especially against the Kiwis. I personally think it is hilarious when either of those teams lose, but I was a little bit surprised at how much help the French got in 2007.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    As said many people, this double-decision was key... and was one of the poorest decision in Nigel Owens carreer. But i'm pretty sure he'll be able to do his autocritic afterwards... as this decision turned an enjoyable match in a previsible defeat. And please stop with this easy conspiracy theory. As a french fan, i hate this kind of excuses. Of course, France will be always considered as "a guest" in the anglosaxon rugby circle... But the best answer is to continue to play rugby, try to beat them and stop complain. Sarries vs Toulon will be an interesting contest as Toulon stars didn't meet big opposition in defence in this Hcup... and that Sarries hasn't really been tested in their forward game and had some good fortune vs Clermont and Ulster

    Reply
  •  upthelowend
    upthelowend

    Whilst I do agree that they would have won regardless, it appeared that Claremont's morale dropped dramatically after that try was given. I'd say it was definitely the wrong call and whilst sarries were most definitely good for the win, I don't think they were as good as the scoreline suggests.

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    I'm with you ConnachtMan. I didn't like the Ash Splash at any point. Do it once or twice, but not every time you score(d) for England. I thought it was disrespectful.

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    In American sports it's called the Sports Illustrated effect. A player goes downhill after being featured on the cover of SI. Of course, the reality is that it is nigh on impossible to stay on top form for ever without a dip. Owens has been SO good for a while that it's pretty much impossible to go anywhere but down. He's still an utterly brilliant ref, but he will make mistakes, and it is inevitable that he'll be seen to be getting worse. But worse than exceptional is still pretty fucking awesome.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I admitted somewhere in the past that I had not been wowed by Courtney Lawes as much as others had. I felt that the international scene in which he was entering into very much made him anonymous and he did not (at the time) deserve the huge hype surrounding him. I personally have found that to be true up until very recently when perhaps a combination of fitness (no injury), experience and motivation made him shine like a diamond. I did mention after he played some fantastic rugby (on the international scene) that I am happy to have been proven wrong, although at the time I made the original comments I believe they were true. As for Ashton, I thought when he first came onto the big scene (again I refer to the international side of things) he was a fantastic player, I felt he offered a huge impact in his support running and general work rate. Then it was all downhill, he appeared to become complacent, for arguments sake: "my try rate per game secures my place in the team" was the sentiment. He appeared to either be shut down or unable to find the gaps, he started to look cocky without the ability behind him to back up the attitude and he continued to get his feathers ruffled each game. I think the time out of the England shirt has given him the chance to reflect on his own game, regroup and mature somewhat and will hopefully be able to see him WORK his way back into an England squad/team. As for the best winger in Europe? I'll leave that for the others to pick at...

    Reply
  •  kanpai
    kanpai

    Yes, i do say he is not one of the best. But that is my opinion, based on what i think an exceptionnal winger should be. And to me he lacks of creativity, of madness. To give you example, Shane Williams or Cedric Heymans are what i consider best wingers. And i don't put Vincent Clerc in it (h-cup try recordman), because i think he is like Ashton, a really good finisher, that benefits from team efforts. That doesn't mean they're not top players, just not the best to me. And yes, i don't like Ashton. But that's irrelevant, because a good player is still a good player whether i like him or not. I hate Richie McCaw, but i still think he is a good player.

    Reply
  •  connachtman
    connachtman

    Shane Williams had a long distinguished career, on maybe 1 or 2 occasions he did a show boat, Ashton conversely probably does an Ash Splash every time he goes to bed, I admire his speed and agility but sorry I dont care for him as a rugby player, he comes across as an oaf. Give me players with humility any time.

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    Ashton always got a disproportionate amount of slack for his showboating. I really wonder how many hatefull comments people like Rockocoko/Serevi/Paulse/Ioane and even Shane Williams (remember his last try in the red jersey?) received. I agree with you: to me he looks like a quality player (which he proves objectively by scoring 11 tries in a HC campaign that has not yet finished). And until proven otherwise I believe he is okay as a human being too.

    Reply
  •  frontrowrobbo
    frontrowrobbo

    Owens had a good game in general I thought - tough call with penalty try. Definite yellow and the try was coming regardless if it was a penalty try or a 5m attacking scrum. The obstruction at the other end was 50:50 as well. Regardless, any team - even saturday amature league - dont throw the towel in over a few dodgy calls in the first 20 mins. Its a shame so much negativity is in the comments when so much good was on show.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    How good is Brits?

    Reply
  •  kanpai
    kanpai

    I think i wasn't clear. I didn't mean Ashton wasn't good during this game. In fact, he was, and despite that Clermont stop fighting back, his game was still pretty impressive. What i'm saying, it's that he is not overall one of the best winger in Europe. When the opposition is tougher, he often just disappear of the screen, he is (at least this year) not a game-winner player. He is good finisher, he added to that a bit of team play, but he still need to improve to international level. About Burger, i don't get it. Did i say he was bad ? Once again, i don't say Saracens had a bad game, just that Clermont wasn't a strong opponents (on this game).

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Are you throwing a bit of bait out there with that?

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I think the RWC 2011 final will remain quite suspect for a few people for a long time, the analysis I've seen from NON-French panels has shown quite a few decisions which were given against France were later not given against NZ, so I think the French are allowed to feel fairly hard done by as a result.

    Reply
  •  kanpai
    kanpai

    Same feelings here. Owens is going down in my opinion, even if i thought last year he finally achieve being one of the best referee in the world. It's been two consecutive H-cup games were he made the same mistakes - not giving a fair referring to the two teams -. But Clermont should have try to deal with it, and the lack of reactions clearly show Saracens deserves it more.

    Reply
  •  kanpai
    kanpai

    To be honest, before the try refused to Clermont i think it was still a 50/50 match. Then, Clermont clearly stopped fighting, so i wouldn't say Saracens were awesome. They were simply just more into it. And about Ashton, i'm sorry, but he is neither class act (even during this match he still show his lack of fair-play) nor even close to the best wingers, he will have to prove he can deal with a stronger opponents (i don't remember seeing him doing anything against Toulouse for example). However, I'll admit that he seems to be less selfish in his play.

    Reply
  •  connachtman
    connachtman

    Wrong call ( penalty try) by Owens, in that it was not clear that try would have been scored ( note the ball was al lover the place and close to the line) http://www.irblaws.com/index.php?highlight=penalty try&law=12.1

    Reply
  •  connachtman
    connachtman

    "laws" not " rules"

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    @Oliver - it is French paranoia and the refs do not have it in for you froggies. You're welcome.

    Reply
  •  tintin
    tintin

    The main issue is rules interpretation - Same game with different referees could have different outcomes - I do hope that all referees are honestly doing their best. An harmonisation and a better use of the video is urgently requested - Or are the current rules given too much room for interpretation?

    Reply
  • Well just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you. Welsh hate when Roland refs, Irish hate when Barnes or Poite ref, English commentators seem to love Poite, and then the French think that everyone is against them. The one uniting point is surely that Steve Walsh is a gobshite. My theory for this weekend is that if the refs were reversed this weekend both matches would have been closer. Sarries would have been penalised more by Barnes and Owens would have allowed more Munster counter-rucking, less wrong decisions from mauls and less arbitrary/wrong decisions from scrums. I think the real root of paranoia from the French is, aside from the deep seeded belief that the world can be divided into 'The French' and the encroaching evil otherness of 'le monde Anglo-Saxon', that refereeing standards are piss-poor in the Top 14. The breakdown is an absolute free-for-all and hardly refereed at all. Then French teams are surprised when it's reffed differently at European and international level and French supporters are convinced that the English speaking world is ganging up on them. N'est pas?

    Reply
  •  vladimir
    vladimir

    Overall, there were very awful perfomances from referees this week-end. Let's reckon some arguable decisions are casual in a rugby match, but in both there were sloppy, if not biaised, decisions that in the first case completely killed the french team fighting spirit after 20mins of play, and nearly did the same in the second match. What on earth happened?

    Reply
  •  jimmynee
    jimmynee

    With the penalty try, it's hard to tell if the ball was travelling backwards when Brook James knocks it out. Looks like it might have been then it would have been a try scoring opportunity. Would be interesting to know what Nigel Owen's other options have been. Fofana not attempting to get anywhere near Farrell for his try reflects how one team just wanted this game more than the other.

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    I agree the penalty try was fairly harsh, but at the end of it Saracens still won by 40 points. They were clearly on fire that day in every department and I think even if they weren't awarded a penalty try they probably would have won anyway. Maybe that seems like a bit of a bold statement but honestly I don't know what team would have been capable of breaking that defence.

    Reply
  • Penelty try is very harsh in my opinion! Dont think theres anyway james knows where the ball is after the first attemted catch!

    Reply

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Saracens fly through to Cup Final after dominant performance vs Clermont | RugbyDump