Apr 18, 2015
Saracens edged out in St-Etienne
Saracens dreams of a second European Cup final were dashed in St Etienne on Saturday night.
Wesley Fofana’s try early in the second half proved to be the difference between the two sides in what was a brave and battling performance from the Londoners against an ASM Clermont Auvergne side cheered on by a crowd of 41,500.
Two Charlie Hodgson penalties had given Saracens a 6-3 lead at the interval, but the score from the French international centre with the second half just three minutes old was the old score of the game.
There was only two minutes on the clock when Clermont has their first attempt to put points on the board after working an opening for Brock James, but the fly-half’s drop goal went wide.
But as the game wore on, Saracens had more of the ball and Charlie Hodgson gave his team the lead with a drop goal after a spell of pressure in the Clermont 22.
However, with the game 20minutes old Clermont thought they had scored through Nalaga but terrific defensive work from Chris Ashton prevented the try in the corner.
With 26 minutes on the clock, Clermont did draw level when James struck a penalty from the 22.
After missing a similar kick at goal five minutes earlier, Hodgson didn’t miss with his attempt on 36 minutes to give Saracens a 6-3 lead at the interval.
Clermont came out firing in the second half and with just three minutes on the clock, they had crossed the line. Pressure in the Saracens 22 stretched the defensive line and James’ chip over the defence was collected by Wesley Fofana to score. James added the conversion.
After a 10 weeks absence through injury, Owen Farrell came off the bench on 50minutes and he chipped at the lead on 65 minutes with a penalty giving Clermont a 10-9 lead going into the final quarter of an hour.
But with eight minutes left on the clock, James struck another three points to restore the four point lead.
Saracens did enjoy much of the possession in the second half and had chances to break clear but it turned out to be a frustrating afternoon for the Men In Black with things just not clicking.
All thoughts now turn to the Aviva Premiership and Saturday’s all-important clash against Northampton Saints at Stadium MK.