Saturday, 14 May 2016

Saracens Crowned Champions

Saracens finally have their name etched onto the European Rugby Champions Cup after Owen Farrell booted them to a 21-6 triumph over Racing 92 in Lyon.

Mark McCall's men controlled possession and territory to land seven penalties to Racing's three, in the first Champions Cup final without a try for 10 years. Nigel Owens' final whistle was a landmark moment for Saracens, who were beaten in the 2014 final by RC Toulon.

But they finally got their hands on the trophy at a rain sodden Grand Stade de Lyon against a Parisian side, whose hopes faded when Dan Carter limped off injured two minutes into the second-half.

Farrell landed seven penalties from seven attempts to earn a deserved victory that sees Saracens become the first side to win all nine games in a Champions Cup campaign.

Maxime Machinaud missed an early opportunity to put the French side ahead after the first scrum-penalty. But Saracens secured a set-piece chance of their own five minutes later after Owen Farrell's deft chip through had the Racing defence scrambling. And the England outside-half made no mistake from close range to put Sarries 3-0 ahead.

The heavens opened and the rain pelted down moments later, but both sides maintained their attacking intentions. Racing forced their way into Saracens territory to force the English side into submission at a scrum, and Johan Goosen landed a long-range kick to level the scores after 17 minutes.

But McCall's men began to flex their muscles in the second quarter. Farrell missed a drop-goal but atoned for his error with a penalty to retake a slim three-point advantage. His chip through moments later almost setup a Chris Ashton try, but referee Nigel Owens brought it back for an earlier offence, which Farrell punished with another penalty.

Goosen split the uprights with another penalty to keep Racing in-touch, but Farrell matched his effort to give Saracens a 12-6 half-time lead.

Sarries came out of the changing rooms and immediately looked to assert a territorial advantage. They turned Racing over five metres out from their own line, before Dimitri Szarzewsk came in from the side to concede a penalty. And Farrell maintained his 100 percent record off the tee to stretch the advantage to 15-6.

But Racing would not let this final pass them by, and turned up the tempo after 60 minutes. Saracens held-off a bludgeoning assault, but conceded a close range penalty, which Goosen converted to make it a six-point game.

And Farrell made sure it Saracens name would be on the trophy with his sixth successful three-pointer after 75 minutes, before wrapping it up a minute from time.

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