Saracens 30 Clermont 23: Three talking points
Three talking points as Chris Ashton seals dramatic win
Sarries open campaign with a win to heap more pain on Clermont
It was always going to be a tasty affair, the two sides that contested a rather one-sided semi-final last year, with the hosts coming through 46-6 on that occasion. Saracens though wanted to make sure they opened their European campaign with a win and they managed it, albeit by a much finer margin. A match that saw the lead swing to and fro with regularity ended with the English side edging a tight affair in the closing stages. The difference between the two sides was the clinical finishing of Sarries’ two key threats in the backs, David Strettle and Chris Ashton. The pair grabbed a brace each to seal a bonus point win at the Allianz Park arena to leave them heading to Munster next week with a spring in their steps.
Hodgson rolls back the years in vintage display for Sarries
It can’t be easy trying to keep England’s first choice fly-half out of the club side, especially when his dad is one of the coaches, but somehow Charlie Hodgson is managing it. With Owen Farrell and father Andy watching from the sidelines, Hodgson put in a man of the match performance kicking 10 points and pulling the strings in midfield throughout. The crowd showed their appreciation when he was eventually replaced by Farrell with three minutes to go, as Hodgson denied his advancing years to show the youngster how it’s done. The decision to start Hodgson over Farrell will be a tactical one but it is paying off for Sarries and they must thank their lucky stars to have such a wealth of talent at stand-off.
Sarries set sights on Munster in battle of unbeaten sides
A first match of the new campaign and a bonus point win for Sarries means they head to Ireland next week to face Munster after the latter overcame a resiliant Sale Sharks side at the AJ Bell stadium. Neither side were perfect and both would have hoped for bigger margins, but Sarries and Munster will go head to head knowing a win would give them a big advantage over the other in terms of the final positions in the pool. Both sides are well fancied but in a highly competitive group such as this one is, neither side will want to give an inch in terms of the result next weekend.