May 15, 2017
Making Memories - Five Key Moments From The Champions Cup Win
The 2017 Champions Cup Final saw Sarries at their finest, beating French giants Clermont 28-17 in a thrilling match at Murrayfield. We have taken a look at five key events from the game that set the course of history as Sarries won back-to-back European Champions Cup Crowns.
A Goode Time:
Chris Ashton’s opener wasn’t just a key moment that set Sarries on course to victory; remarkably, it was the club’s first ever try in a European Cup final after 2014’s defeat and the victory secured by Owen Farrell’s boot in the Lyon rain in 2016. He seized upon the ball off the back of an inch-perfect grubber from Alex Goode and showed everyone the ‘Ash-Splash’ as he touched down in the corner. Goode was instrumental in the next try, making the break off the back of an offload from Billy Vunipola to get Sarries to within inches of the line before Kruis stormed in to score. Goode rounded off the scoring with a try in the 72nd minute that put victory beyond doubt.
Normally you find kickers just pulling the strings and landing the points in a final like this but a player like European Player of the Year Owen Farrell would not be content with that alone, now would he? His bone-crunching tackle on Remi Lamerat in the first-half sent a gasp around Murrayfield and helped set the tone for Sarries in their relentless push towards a third European Crown. He might have been playing fly-half at the weekend but with tackles like that it’s no surprise that he is deployed as a centre on England duty. With 13-points in the final as well it’s no surprise that the 26-year-old was named European Player of the Year.
Billy’s Big Bash:
Perhaps nothing more shows the strength of Sarries performance more than the fact that neither Goode, Farrell or any other player was named Man-of-the-Match but the choice was Billy Vunipola. It was a complete performance from the Number 8 as he carried, tackled, rucked, mauled and offloaded in the manner everyone has come to expect from the 2016 World Player of the Year nominee. Nobody carries the ball quite like Billy and the 2017 Lions tourist’s carries helped keep the pressure on Clermont as they rarely got into the Men in Black’s ’22. His pass to Goode also helped set up the second try and he was relentless in his effort and intensity to help guide Sarries to the title.
Owens’ Big Call:
Nigel Owens is a fantastic referee and his relationship with players is second to none. He refereed the 2015 World Cup final and is a man with unrivalled big-game experience. However, his decision not to award either a penalty try after Camille Lopez’s knock-on with the try-line gaping was met with confusion by the Sarries fans within the stadium. At that point, the match was on a knife-edge; perhaps the awarding of anything more than a scrum would have sent the final in Sarries’ favour in a manner that would have been an unsatisfying end to a wonderfully contested and competitive final. In the end, Goode’s try rendered the decision meaningless but at the time it could have gone either way…
Close but No Cigar for Lopez:
After Goode’s try, Clemont were just 8-points short of Saracens and when Lopez elected to kick from 40-metres out soon after the try the whole of Murrayfield held its breath. Would Lopez have notched the kick home then it would have set up a grand-stand finish with the French side just five points short of Sarries. However, his kick drifted just wide of the mark and Owen Farrell instead kicked a late penalty of his own to seal a famous victory that would be celebrated hard into Sunday morning on the streets of Edinburgh by the Fez-Heads.