June 27, 2017

Billy Vunipola says Saracens need to focus on next week's Exeter clash

15 May 2017, 12:50 | Alberta Rodriguez

Strettle scored a try in Clermont's win over Leinster in the Champions Cup semi-final last month

Strettle scored a try in Clermont's win over Leinster in the Champions Cup semi-final last month

Saracens will now turn their attention to trying to complete the double-double - they face Exeter away in the Premiership semi-finals next week.

Saracens have been able to reach the top of the game and stay there for the last two years, achieving the Champions Cup-Premiership League double in 2016.

Something will have to give at Murrayfield, with Saracens" "Wolfpack' defence up against the likes of their former wing David Strettle, one of several attacking threats in a Clermont back division also featuring Nick Abendanon, Aurelien Rougerie and Camille Lopez.

"Clermont are a fantastic team, they've been blitzing people all year in the Champions Cup".

There were three fine tries - one from Chris Ashton to set a new record in European Cup rugby, another before half time from George Kruis and the match-winner from Goode in the closing stages but there could have been more. He managed to put the ball back on the Saracens side and when Richard Wigglesworth popped the ball up, the onrushing Kruis smashed his way over. However, full-back Goode's touchdown seven minutes from time ensured it was Saracens who retained their title.

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. Parra was pleased with his team's response, but ultimately acknowledged they came up short. The winger, who joins Toulon next season, now holds the record for the most European Cup tries with 37 to his name.

But try as they might, Clermont could never build a lead and were left with their third European final defeat in five years. With Clermont still scrambling back into covering positions, Kruis arrived at the flawless moment to crash over.

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Clermont desperately needed a foothold in the game and they have too much class in their ranks not to find a response.

However, Farrell is closer in style to what Gatland is looking for as a functional fly-half blessed with natural leadership skills, a bullet-proof goal-kicking mindset and genetically gifted his father's competitiveness and durability. Scott Spedding ran it back from inside his 22.

And in 13 minutes they broke through, from a lineout drive with a penalty advantage Farrell swung it wide, Goode's ideal grubber behind Scott Spedding sat up for Ashton and the wing had room for his trademark dive in the corner.

Abendanon, who won two England caps in 2007, was heroic for Clermont.

"But we've been in these positions before - three years ago, we were in a semi-final and lost to Clermont, and the year before that we were in a final against Toulon and lost". Obviously we still have next week but I will celebrate tonight with the lads and enjoy it.

"What you saw today was a Saracens team with all the players on the same hymn sheet, knowing exactly what they need to be doing at the right times - and maybe that is something we lack a little bit", Abendanon said.

Clermont try scorer Nick Abendanon said: "This team has got a lot of belief. It's not a nice feeling, but I'm assured we'll be there or thereabouts next year and we've got to hope next year is going to be our year".

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