May 14, 2016
Saracens crowned Kings of Lyon
Saracens have been crowned European champions for the first time in the club’s history after they defeated Racing 92 21-9 at the Grand Stade de Lyon.
The Allianz Park side crowned a perfect season in Europe, the first side ever to do so, by defeating Parisian outfit Racing 92 with Owen Farrell scoring all of his side’s points in a peerless display of pressure place kicking with sevens penalties.
The heroes in the Black and Red of Saracens produced a display that had all the hallmarks of a side who have joined an elite bunch of clubs to have lifted a European Cup. A fearless defence coupled with a committed kick chase suffocated the fancied Parisians in the rain-drenched French city.
The heavens opened in the first half with the Grand Stade de Lyon drenched from mid-afternoon downpour that threatened to curtail any free flowing rugby.
With the conditions slippery both teams looked for their gigantic pack of forwards to carry the burden. For Racing, captain Szarzewski and lock forward Charteris were prominent, for Sarries, the bash brothers of Itoje and Kruis stood out whilst fly-half Owen Farrell steered his side around the choppy waters of the stormy Lyon ground.
Sarries landed the first points after Maxime Machenaud (kicking in the place of Dan Carter) missed an early opportunity, Owen Farrell sending over the place kick after ten minutes of play.
Carter looked out of sorts, and the legendary Kiwi outside half was rattled by a trademark hit from the cast-iron willed Brad Barritt.
Racing levelled things when Johan Goosen landed a long range effort, only for Farrell to send over two more penalties to give Mark McCall’s side a 9-3 lead.
Racing rallied, with Goosen sending over another three pointer after Sarries infringed at the breakdown but it was the north Londoners who would have the final say of the half with another Owen Farrell penalty before the break.
After the break, Carter trudged off the field to be replaced by French international Remi Tales.
With his opposite number off the pitch Farrell sent over another penalty as Saracens looked to strengthen their stranglehold on the nervy contest.
Racing looked to kick for territory but were frustrated to only find the expert backfield cover of Messrs Ashton, Wyles and Goode.
Sarries looked to play tight in the adverse conditions but couldn’t penetrate the Sky Blue and White line.
Goosen landed another penalty on the hour mark when Jackson Wray was penalised for a side entry as the momentum swung in the Parisians side favour.
Racing’s tails were up. They carried and carried as the Saracens defence held firm. Sarries though were beginning to get nervy. A lineout loss was compounded by an Alex Goode knock on under a Tales high ball as the pressure continued to be exerted by Racing.
Sarries though dug deep and Farrell was offered the chance to edge his team in front to an unattainable nine point lead after a strong driving maul. Farrell landed the kick.
As Racing chased the game they concede another penalty under their own posts. Farrell did the honour to send his fellow players, staff and the Saracens supporters into raptures.
Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Duncan Taylor, Brad Barritt (c), Chris Wyles; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Petrus du Plessis, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Michael Rhodes, Will Fraser, Billy Vunipola
Replacements: Jamie George, Richard Barrington, Juan Figallo, Jim Hamilton, Jackson Wray, Ben Spencer, Charlie Hodgson, Marcelo Bosch.
Replacements used; George for Brits(22-32&52); Barrington for M. Vunipola (77); Figallo for Du Plessis (68); Hamilton for Itoje(79); Wray for B. Vunipola (43-51); Wray for Rhodes (51); Spencer for Wigglesworth (79); Hodgson for Farrell (79); Bosch for Taylor (77):
Scores: Penalties Farrell x 7
Racing 92: Brice Dulin; Joe Rokocoko, Johannes Goosen, Alexandre Dumoulin, Juan Imhoff; Dan Carter, Maxime Machenaud; Eddy Ben Arous, Dimitri Szarzewski (c), Ben Tameifuna, Luke Charteris, Francois van der Merwe, Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Chris Masoe
Replacements: Virgile Lacombe, Khatchik Vartanov, Luc Ducalcon, Manuel Carizza, Antonie Claassen, Mike Phillips, Remi Tales, Henry Chavancy:
Replacements used; Lacombe for Szarzewski(66); Vartanov for Arous(77); Ducalcon for Tameifuna(68); Carizza for van der Merwe(66); Classen for Le Roux(77); Phillips for Machenaud(22); Tales for Carter(43); Chavancy for Dumoulin(57):
Scores: Penalties Goosen x 3
Scoring sequence; 3-0; 3-3; 6-3; 9-3; 9-6; 12-6;15-6; 15-9; 18-9; 21-9:
Man of the match: Maro Itoje