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Saracens: Mark McCall says double European champions can get even better

14 May 2017

For most of this epic battle, their hold on the Champions Cup was loosened by opponents who had the edge when it came to invention.

With man-of-the-match Billy Vunipola in irresistible form, the holders looked in total command and stretched the lead to 12-0 when lock George Kruis charged over following more good work by Goode.

They become only the fourth club in history to successfully defend Europe's premier competition while victory sees them extend their unbeaten run in the tournament to 18 games.

Director of rugby Mark McCall is another who is reluctant to talk up his or his team's achievements but he, too, could not hide his pride.

"A big lesson we learned previous year was at the culmination of the season, you have this euphoria for two days and then it dissipates and dies down and you start thinking towards next season".

"After they scored that unbelievable 100-metre try we had to show our experience and resilience and I'm really pleased with the way we attacked and went after them in that last 20 minutes".

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"If we're hungry enough and humble enough, then there's no reason why we can't get better", McCall said.

"We could easily have lost our heads being so dominant and not scoring but we didn't".

Ashton - the European Cup's top try-scorer - said: "We had a lot of chances in the first half and I thought that we might regret missing that".

Owen Farrell ended the game with three penalties and two conversions to start the party for those in red and black. Against Leinster, they kicked out of hands 19 times - compared to Saracens 34 times against Munster in their semi-final.

In what was a classic final in Edinburgh, Saracens outscored Clermont three tries to two.

They were rewarded with scores from Ashton and George Kruis but eventually Clermont caught their breath, hitting back through Remi Lamerat before half-time.

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Farrell and Parra traded penalties before Alex Goode received a pass from Farrell and went over from close range. "It was a joy to be on the field with the rest of the team".

A clean line-out set them up to swing the ball out to Goode via Owen Farrell, with the full-back dumping a ideal grubber in behind the Clermont back three for Ashton to gallop onto. There were key clashes all over the park with Ashton and Abendanon opposite each other, Owen Farrell going toe-to-toe again with Camille Lopez, and Maro Itoje matched physically by second-row giant Sebastien Vahaamahina.

Farrell extended it with a penalty but Clermont, with a succession of breakdown turnovers, got back to within a point when Abendanon finished a brilliant move that started in front of their own posts with Scott Spedding making ground and then another break and offload by Peceli Yato.

But at length, with eight minutes left, the pressure told, as an overlap on the right gave Goode the space to race through.

Farrell converted for 25-17, Morgan Parra missed his first goalkick that would have revived Clermont's dying hopes, and Farrell capped the scoring with his third penalty. But we showed a lot of sides to ourselves and we are chuffed. "We weren't able to reverse the pressure".

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Saracens: Mark McCall says double European champions can get even better