Champions Sarries lose again
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: A late penalty courtesy of fullback Scott Spedding made sure Clermont secure back-to-back victories over Champions Cup title holders Saracens.
Sarries came out the blocks flying as two Owen Farrell penalties were supplemented by a converted Ben Spencer try to send the visitors into a strong early lead before Will Skelton was sent to the sin-bin on the half-hour mark.
Morgan Parra and Scott Spedding shared kicking duties for the hosts and were unerring with their accuracy as they clawed Sarries back to a one-point advantage at the interval.
Parra kicked two early second-half penalties before Farrell kicked one of his own for Sarries; then Nick Abendanon’s yellow card handed the away side back some momentum and Alex Lozowski capitalised with a try. However, two late penalties from the phenomenal Parra secured a win for the hosts.
Farrell opened the scoring for Saracens with a penalty in just the third minute of the game, the flyhalf doubled Sarries’ lead with another penalty in the sixth minute as Sarries put the Clermont defence under good, sustained pressure.
Sarries scored their first try in the ninth minute, a great move forward from the team was supplemented by a great break through from Will Skelton; this set-up Spencer to make a sensational break.
The scrumhalf stepped past the last man to score under the posts and set-up Farrell for a routine conversion attempt, he nailed it and gave Sarries an early 0-13 lead.
Parra and Spedding shared four penalty kicks during the remainder of a thrilling first-half as the French Champions bit back but Saracens retained their composure to go into the interval with a one-point lead of 12-13.
Parra kicked a further penalty for the home side in the 47th minute before a great scrum yielded a penalty which was converted once again by the French scrumhalf.
Farrell kicked another penalty just before the hour mark before Abendanon was sent to the sin-bin for the hosts. The visitors capitalised with their second try of the match.
Alex Lozowski cut inside off a great Farrell pass, evading the last man before crossing the whitewash to score a well-deserved try for the visitors to nudge them back into a three-point lead.
Parra added a further penalty from under the posts to tie the scores with ten minutes to play before a late penalty by Spedding from distance clinched what was a remarkable game.
Pens: Parra 6, Spedding 2
Tries: Spencer, Lozowski
Pens: Farrell 3
Yellow Cards: Will Skelton (Saracens, 31), Nick Abendanon (Clermont, 60), Juan Figallo (Saracens, 65)
Clermont: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 David Strettle, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Isaiah Toeava, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Peceli Yato, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Flip Van Der Merwe, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Etienne Falgoux.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Viktor Kolelishvili, 21 Charly Trussardi, 22 Peter Betham, 23 Nick Abendanon.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Alex Lozowski, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray 7 Calum Clark, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Nathan Earle.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)