Mon, May 15, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Saracens ‘hungry’ after Euro Cup win: McCall

MANNER OF THE GAME:Despite winning back-to-back titles, the Sacacens boss was more encouraged by how his team played, with a length-of-the-field, 51st-minute try

AFP, EDINBURGH

Saracens players lift the trophy on Saturday after winning the European Champions Cup Final against ASM Clermont Auvergne at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Photo: AP

Saracens director Mark McCall said “there’s no reason why we can’t get better” after his side beat ASM Clermont Auvergne 28-17 to win back-to-back European Champions Cup titles.

Unlike last year’s 21-9 final win over Clermont’s French rivals Racing 92, where England’s Owen Farrell kicked all of Saracens’ points in a match where neither side managed a try, Saturday’s clash at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh was a far more exciting contest.

Saracens, belying their reputation as a dour, forward-orientated team, almost scored a try in the second minute.

McCall’s men were 12-0 up following the end of the opening quarter after Chris Ashton, bound for France with Toulon, scored a tournament career record 37th try and England lock George Kruis also crossed Clermont’s line.

Clermont, who came into the match with a reputation for blistering starts, fought back thanks to Remi Lamerat’s first-half try before Saracens wing Nick Abendanon crowned a length-of-the-field move for a score in the 51st minute.

Morgan Parra’s penalty left Clermont just a point behind at 17-18 heading into the final quarter before Saracens pulled clear, with fullback Alex Goode’s try seven minutes from time putting the London club two scores clear after Farrell converted.

Victory left Saracens, the reigning English champions, just two matches away from completing a “double-double” and with the likes of Farrell and man-of-the-match Billy Vunipola still having plenty of rugby to look forward to barring injury.

“I think the pleasing thing today was it felt and looked like we had improved from last year,” said McCall, whose side face the Exeter Chiefs in the English Premiership semi-final playoffs.

“It was a different kind of final from last year and allowed us to show different signs of ourselves,” the former Ireland center added.

“I thought we showed a lot of great qualities. We think the age profile of the group is good and if we’re hungry enough, we’re hungry enough so there’s no reason why we can’t get better.”

Having seen Saracens charge into an early lead, McCall was proud of the composure his players displayed to weather Clermont’s fightback.

“It is great to win back-to-back [finals], but the manner in which we did it was the hugely encouraging thing,” McCall said. “It felt we were dominant for long periods.”

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