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IT'S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE - 1.CHRIS ASHTON
The first in a series of articles saying Goodbye to some of The Saracens of 2017 who are moving on. 1. CHRIS ASHTON
A GAME TOO FAR - BUT WE'RE STILL CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!!!
In the words of that great Scottish bard Jim “Rabbie Burns” Hamilton, there are only so many times you can go to the well before it runs dry”. Today the well was dry and despite this fabulous, brave lionhearted team digging with their bare fingernails, there was nothing left.
CLASH OF THE UNBEATABLES
Exeter Chiefs vs Saracens Aviva Premiership Rugby Semi Final Saturday 20 May Sandy Park After the euphoria of Saturday, Saracens face a challenge every bit as strong as Clermont as they travel to Devon to face an Exeter side who have not been beaten in 15 Premiership matches since they lost at home to Bath in late October, denoting a side, much like their opponents, who find a way to win. As Saracens have gradually built towards European dominance, Exeter appear to be evolving towards a Premiership title, but will it be this season as Sarries' hunger remains for the "double double" undiminished
MINE'S A DOUBLE SCOTCH
ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE v SARACENS, European Champions Cup Final, Sat 13th May 2017, Murrayfield I am not by nature superstitious, however when it comes to something like a European final, it’s not unnatural to check the omens are favourable. And it was looking good. An uneventful journey on Friday night to our hotel in Peebles, a French Team beat an English one in the Challenge Cup (sorry Gloucester), a Curlew seen out of the car window within 5 minutes of me saying “we’re in Curlew country”, it was raining and best of all a fabulous little Dipper outside my bedroom window on Saturday morning. It felt as if the Gods were smiling on us.
THE EPIC JOURNEY
ASM Clermont Auvergne vs Saracens The European Champions Cup Final Saturday 13 May Murrayfield As recently as 2010/11, Saracens had a miserable season in the Heineken Cup, winning just one from six pool matches in their return to top flight competition. Since that campaign, they have steadily improved to the situation now, bidding to retain the title they gained in Lyon last season.
An Armchair Ride to the Ricoh
I haven’t previously written a write-up of a game watched half from an armchair and half hiding behind it, but let’s see what I can make of the must-win game at the Ricoh yesterday. For Wasps this was a must-win game. Wasps in a semi-final at their fortress will fancy taking on anyone who crosses their path to Twickenham, but Wasps at Sandy Lane or Allianz Park would be an altogether more doubtful proposition. For Sarries this was a nice-to-win game. They know they can win anywhere, home or away, and that knowledge is based on experience.
WHAT A STIRRING PREMIERSHIP SHOWDOWN
Saturday 6 May Ricoh Arena The regular season comes to an intriguing close as the top three is confirmed, but not necessarily in the same order as Saracens know that any win will provide a home semi-final, irrespective of Exeter Chiefs result at Gloucester.
SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT?
Harlequins’ defeat of Wasps put a rather different spin on Kelly & Neil’s leaving party because all of a sudden the result mattered. Things were back in our own hands. A win today and another next Saturday would give us a home semi-final. Unfortunately someone forgot to cancel the clown!
FOR WHOM THE BRIS TOLS
Saracens vs Bristol Rugby Saturday 29 April Allianz Park It would be easy to get a sense of anti-climax in the aftermath of another famous win as Saracens added to their "bucket list" of notable victories in Dublin, but the dilemma will be whether to go all out for a bonus point win with a full strength line up, or employ a modified side, which, with respect to the relegated visitors, could still do the job of taking a massive step to a home semi-final with a bonus point success, given that Wasps face difficult tasks at Harlequins and at home to Saracens.
MASSIVE WIN LANDED AT LANSDOWNE
A virtually impenetrable performance in defence provided the platform for a win which puts Saracens in the European final for a third successive season. In a tight first half, the visitors absorbed sustained pressure from Munster, and more of the same in the second half saw the "hosts" struggle to get over the gain line, whilst typically clinical finishing assured a comfortable Sarries win.
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