Saracens retains European crown

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Saracens claimed back-to-back European Champions Cup titles as Chris Ashton reached a major milestone in Sunday's (AEST) 28-17 win over Clermont Auvergne.

The Premiership side, seeking a second consecutive European and league double, completed the first part of that feat in a thrilling clash at Murrayfield.

Ashton, who will depart at the end of the season for Toulon, moved on to a record 37 tries in European competition with the opening score, while George Kruis also crossed the whitewash before the break.

Despite dominating the first half, Sarries was pegged back by Remi Lamerat's try for a Clermont team which was simply trying to hang on in a bid to claim the club's first title after final defeats in 2013 and 2015.

The pattern of play was turned on its head at the start of the second half as, after Owen Farrell's penalty, Nick Abendanon capped a fine Clermont move with the try of the match to cut the gap to one point.

But Mark McCall's men dug deep to become only the fourth side to retain the crown as Alex Goode's late try killed off the hopes of its Top 14 opponent.

Saracens made a stunning start and Ashton was held up close to the line inside two minutes, but he was not to be denied his moment in the 12th minute.

Goode's perfectly weighted grubber was pounced upon by the 30-year-old, who ran in to bring up a landmark score.

Farrell's conversion attempt hit the post and he then came up short with an ambitious penalty, but still the English side continued to probe and Kruis powered over for a second try.

To Clermont's credit they stuck at their increasingly demanding task and managed to cut the deficit when France international Lamerat crossed after strong work from Aurelien Rougerie.

McCall's men were not as quick out of the blocks in the second half, despite Farrell's three-pointer, and Scott Spedding's daring decision to run it out from the back paid dividends when Abendanon added the finishing touch 80 metres down the field.

Farrell and Morgan Parra exchanged penalties to ensure the game entered the final quarter with only a point in it, with the holders next to threaten when Billy Vunipola was thwarted just shy of the line.

Sarries, which takes on Exeter in the Premiership play-off semi-final next weekend, ultimately sealed a 100th win in European competition courtesy of Goode's converted try, with Farrell's penalty the final say.