Heineken Cup semi-finals: Mark McCall hails "phenomenal" Saracens after Clermont win

Last Updated: 27/04/14 7:37am

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Saracens head coach Mark McCall

Sky Bet

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall hailed "a phenomenal performance" from his record-breaking team after they rewrote Heineken Cup semi-final history at Twickenham.

The runaway Aviva Premiership leaders cruised into their first European final after crushing French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne 46-6 at Twickenham.

After building an 18-point interval advantage through a penalty try and touchdowns by wing Chris Ashton and fly-half Owen Farrell they never looked back.

Ashton's second try after the break gave him a new record of 11 touchdowns in one European season, while substitutes Chris Wyles and Tim Streather also touched down, and Saracens could even afford for Farrell to pass on goalkicking duties to full-back Alex Goode.

Saracens will now face Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon or twice European champions Munster - they meet in Marseille on Sunday - in next month's Millennium Stadium final.

"I thought it was a phenomenal performance. It was built on incredible effort and work-rate." McCall said.

"The plan was to put them under pressure that they had not been under all season and I think we achieved that.

"We all realise that today was one of those days where everything that could have gone right went right and that today is a tremendous memory for us, but that it is also the vehicle for something hopefully bigger and better towards the end of May.

"Just after the penalty try, they had a period of pressure in our 22 and we had to defend for our lives against a really good team. We kept them out and I think that was significant."


McCall paid tribute to Saracens flanker Jacques Burger, who made an astonishing 27 tackles as he continued his comeback from a knee injury that at one stage threatened his career.

"Jacques' story is incredible, really," McCall added.

"This time last year it looked like it would be over for him. He makes an incredible sacrifice to play and he was inspirational. He gave everything that he had for the team.

"We talk about progressing and trying to get better as a group. The pressure we applied today led to the attacking opportunities we got."

McCall also hailed the impact of Ashton, who is currently out of favour with England boss Stuart Lancaster as the Six Nations runners-up prepare for a three-Test tour of New Zealand this summer.

"We are all thrilled for Ashy," McCall added.

"He is someone who comes in for a lot of unnecessary criticism and hopefully he gets the breaks he is due today. He made good decisions all the way through. He had a great game."

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