Billy Vunipola: Champions Cup win much tougher second time around
- Author: Stacy Allen May 15, 2017,
May 15, 2017, 2:09
However, the Premiership champions - who have a play-off semi-final with Exeter next weekend - dug deep to remain on course for a double-double.
Both matches will be broadcast on BT Sport 2 on TV and are also available to live stream on BTSport.com or on the award-winning BT Sport app. Saracens put a lot of pressure on us and we did not get through, but the match was not lost because of that. The French team have won the Challenge Cup twice, but the fact that they have lost 11 of their 12 Top 14 finals suggests a chronic inability to deal with the big occasion.
Dan Carter, who had a close-up view when playing in the Racing Metro team beaten by Saracens in last year's final, was full of praise as a pitch-side pundit.
For a long time it just offered the chance for the champions to show their defensive class but a try of the season contender saw them right back in it.
The Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, in particular, delivered remarkable performances, leading the charge with their carrying and tackling topping the charts.
On neutral territory they should therefore be favourites, but Mark McCall, their director of rugby, is well aware of Clermont's ability to stun opponents with a high-tempo start.
I would love Clermont to do it - they have played some of the best rugby that I have been covering in the Top 14 but that does not matter and I think the pragmatism of Saracens will come through - you don't have to love the way they play but you have to admire the way they get the job done. "We look after each other and that's really important".
"That shouldn't affect me, I am playing just the one game, in my head it is the same".
Saracens Number 8, Billy Vunipola: "No one likes the defending champions, everyone wants us to fall at the earliest hurdle possible".
"It just shows how hungry we are because it was tougher this year".
"Playing for Scotland has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me", said the man who will always by the 1000 Scottish global, and one of his many tattoos is a permanent reminder of that number. That has never happened to me before.
"Saracens' key players are all very young".
Jim Hamilton sat in the No 5 booth in the global dressing room at Murrayfield with the European Cup in hands and quite reasonably decided it wasn't getting any better than this. The two previous finals in the Scottish capital were each won by margins of fewer than seven points, with Toulouse beating Stade Francais Paris 18-12 after extra-time in 2005 while Leinster defeated Leicester 19-16 in 2009.
"Our coach Mark McCall said to us at the start of the season that the potential was there for us to be better than previous year, it's just whether we were willing to fight for it".
The defeat for Clermont is their third from three in the final of a European flagship competition after 2012-13 and 2014-15.
The game needed a Clermont response if a real spectacle was to be had - and to the joy of the Yellow Army it arrived after 27 minutes.
They have a beast of a pack that will attempt to pressure Sarries at the scrum and mess up the most consistent line-out in European rugby.