Saracens will play in their first European Cup final after they blew Clermont Auvergne away in a 46-6 semifinal victory at Twickenham on Saturday.
It ws a day of records for the English club as they eclipsed Leicester Tigers and London Wasps’ previous highest score in a semifinal of 37 points and also took the biggest winning margin up to 40 points from Toulouse’ previous best of 27.
England wing Chris Ashton sped clear in the eighth minute to give the Premiership leaders the perfect start against French giants Clermont Auvergne with a try that drew him level with former Brive flyer Sebastien Carrat on 10 tries in one season. Then he pounced again in the second half to make the recod his own.
Carrat had held the record on his own for 17 years, but there was no stopping Ashton at Twickenham and he stil has the European Cup final to go in Cardiff on Saturday, 24 May. Where he led in the first half, so Owen Farrell followed in a first half that also included a penalty try.
Clermont were hoping to make it two successive finals, but that early try, and the penalty try in the unlucky 13th minute, knocked them completley out of their stride. They had a 24th minute try by centre Benson Stanley ruled out for crossing earlier in the move and in the absence of skipper Aurelien Rougerie they struggled to find ways to break down the Sarries defence.
As for Saracens, it was third time lucky for them at the semifinal stage and made up for their bitter disappointment of losing at the same venue at the same stage last year.
Alex Goode added a near touchline conversion to Ashton’s opening score and then easily converted a penalty try awarded by Welsh referee Nigel Owens after he spotted Brock James deliberately knocking a high ball out of play in his own dead ball area. James received a yellow card to leave his side trailing 14-3 with 14 men.
The Saracens loose forwards made life increasingly uncomfortable for the Frenchmen at the breakdown and Jacques Burger led the tackle count as every alleyway was blocked for Clermont. Morgan Parra added a second penalty before half time, but Saracens added a third try before the break when an inside pass from Ashton in the Clrmont 22 went forward off Farrell’s knee and he picked up to cross for another try.
Goode added another conversion and then kicked a penalty to make it 24-6 to Saracens at the break and put them on the road to notching a first win over Clermont in four attenpts in the tournament.
The second half was a stalemate until Argentine centre Marcelo Bosh laned a penalty off the halfway line in the 54th minute and then Ashton capitalised on an aggressive tackle by Farrell that forced Ti’i Paulo to lose the ball as he hacked on twice to score his record breaking try.
Goode was unable to convert that try, but the England fullback ended with a flourish as he added the extras to two more tries from replacements Chris Wyles and Tim Steather a Saracens romped into the European Cup final.
Tries: Ashton 2, Penalty Try, Farrell, Wyles, Streather
Cons: Goode 5
Pens: Goode, Bosch
Pens: Parra 2