Clermont need supreme effort to stop Saracens juggernaut

Clermont need supreme effort to stop Saracens juggernaut

In Saturday's see-saw European Champions Cup final the London club kept believing in themselves, even though battling Clermont Auvergne refused to lie down and were within a point of the holders going into the last quarter of an hour.

Saracens' Billy Vunipola is tackled by ASM Clermont's Fritz Lee during the European Champions Cup Final at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, Saturday May 13, 2017.

Azema said: "I know the history of the club and we are very proud of what we have done in the past and our ability to get to finals, and to win titles and lose titles as well".

And if they can extend that awesome run through next Saturday's Premiership play-off semi-final away to Exeter Chiefs, and the final at Twickenham on 27 May, the London club will emulate Leicester Tigers in 2001 and 2002 by completing the "double double" of English league and European Cup.

Saracens have shown what they are capable of over the last few years and Clermont are really going to have to get up if they want to beat a quality Saracens side.

Saracens will look to become the fourth club to win back-to-back European Cup titles, after Leicester Tigers, Leinster Rugby and RC Toulon.

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"We know there will be a lot of pressure from Saracens and we know they can play excellent rugby".

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.

Director of rugby Mark McCall is another who is reluctant to talk up his or his team's achievements but he, too, could not hide his pride.

They are a fantastic side with a great attack, From an England point of view Nick Abendanon and David Strettle have been in great form for Clermont and playing with big smiles.

"We just try and keep things enjoyable and keep it flowing during the week".

"We did a lot of very good things, but couldn't quite get over their line. Hopefully if we can do that then we'll get a good result".

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In dry conditions, Clermont are a team who like to use the ball. That has never happened to me before.

"The support I've had from the players and the coaching staff has been phenomenal, so it will be a sad day when I do leave".

It was a record 18th match unbeaten in the competition, but centre Brad Barritt said all that mattered was keeping the trophy.

Like their French opponents, Sarries know the pain of falling at the final hurdle, but while the Top 14 outfit continue to be labelled the almost men of European rugby, the English champions have become ruthless in their ability to collect trophies.

The two sides have clashed seven times in the tournament before and he has figured in all of them.

When Farrell stood at first receiver for the first time in a four-phase move, his delayed pass put Jamie George through a gap but Clermont were saved by a penalty at the subsequent ruck and the first period ended when Jackson Wray broke out of his own half after a turnover, but Koch knocked on as the defence scrambled back.

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Clermont, who were the last team to beat them in this competition back in the 2015 semi-finals, have now lost all three of their final appearences including the 2013 showpiece. "These games are won or lost in the last 20 minutes".

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