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Saracens break new ground for English clubs in Europe

Saracens break new ground for English clubs in Europe

Owen Farrell totalled 59 points in the 2019 Championship (Inpho)

  • Saracens claimed a third European crown in four years on Saturday
  • Billy Vunipola's try ended Leinster's hopes in a 20-10 victory
  • Leicester Tigers and Wasps have both won Europe's top trophy twice

Saracens became the first English club to win the European Cup on three separate occasions with their hard-fought win over Leinster on Saturday at St James Park.

There was history on the line in Newcastle with the Irish province looking to become the first team ever to lift Europe’s top prize five times.

But Billy Vunipola – a key cog for England in this year’s Guinness Six Nations – crossed for a second-half try that gave Sarries a third title in the last four years.

And while Wasps and Leicester Tigers have lifted it twice in their respective histories, Sarries are now out in front.

But director of rugby Mark McCall was loath to compare his side’s achievements after an enthralling 20-10 victory.

“It was a performance to be proud of. What we had talked about was being intense and disciplined but we were a bit off that in the first half. We also needed to be smart and make good decisions.

“We saw that in the second half. To win again is incredible. To lose Mako early on but Baz [Barrington] has done a good job for a long time. I’m chuffed for him. Vincent Koch has played well all season too.”

“To be 10-0 down against a side of the quality of Leinster is obviously not the greatest position to be in, and then to lose Maro [Itoje] to the sin-bin around that time as well…

“We just thought the players handled that ten minutes incredibly well, and to score just before half-time was massive for us, and then I thought we played really brilliantly in the second half.

“Our players took control at half-time, if I’m honest. They were very clear on what we needed to do just a little bit better.

“The first one (European Cup win) felt magical, and this one feels good because we were against a really high-class team and we were 10-0 down, we were down to 14 men and we had to find a way to come back into the game – which we did.”

Leinster and Ireland full-back Rob Kearney said that the runners-up were “devastated but that’s sport, the highs, the lows. We had our chances but Saracens are a superb side and they took their chances. We were camped on their line a couple of times and turned the ball over. When they were on our line, they left with points.”

On Friday night, the celebrations belonged to Clermont Auvergne.

The Top 14 side beat their rivals La Rochelle in a dramatic final to claim their third Challenge Cup crown and equal the record.

Their first Champions Cup crown continues to evade them, but Guinness Six Nations stars for France, Damian Penaud and Wesley Fofana, were the Clermont try scorers on Friday night in their 36-16 victory.