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Heineken Champions Cup: Late try sees Saracens lose 19-15 to Racing 92 in tense European semi-final


Racing 92 players celebrate
Racing were losing Champions Cup finalists in 2016 and 2018
Racing 92 (9) 19
Tries: Imhoff Pens: Iribaren 3, Machenaud 1 Cons: Machenaud
Saracens (6) 15
Pens: Goode 5

Racing 92 ended Saracens’ hopes of retaining the Heineken Champions Cup in a tense affair in Paris.

Five Alex Goode penalties had helped Sarries to a 15-12 lead with five minutes remaining.

But Finn Russell’s delicate chip opened up the Saracens defence late on, with Argentine winger Juan Imhoff going over in the corner from Virimi Vakatawa’s pass.

The French side will face Exeter, who beat Toulouse, in the final.

A tight and tryless first 40 minutes saw the hosts take a 9-6 lead via the boot of scrum-half Teddy Iribaren.

But Saracens, who selected the same XV that had held off Leinster in the quarter-final, upped their tempo and linespeed to squeeze mistakes and penalties out of the hosts.

Saracens
Saracens enforced relegations means they will not be in European action for at least two seasons

Led by the unrelenting Billy Vunipola they turned the contest on its head as Goode, deputising at fly-half in the absence of the suspended Owen Farrell, knocked over three penalties to put Saracens in charge.

Alex Lewington might have put the issue beyond doubt on a breakaway, but he chose to gather rather than kick on and was held up by retreating Racing defenders.

Saracens stalwart and captain Brad Barritt was forced off inside the final quarter and his departure galvanised Racing, with Maxime Machenaud cutting the gap to three points before converting Imhoff’s try to apply the coup de grace.

The victory sends Racing, who have never won the title, into their third final.

‘The end of an era’ – what they said

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall: “In many ways it is the end of an era, but we showed all the qualities and characteristics we need on a new journey.

“We put our heart and soul into that game and we can be proud of the players. They are a special group.”

Line-ups

Racing 92: Zebo; Thomas, Vakatawa, Klemenczak, Imhoff; Russell, Iribaren (c); Ben Arous, Chat, Colombe, Bird, Ryan, Lauret, Sanconnie, Claassen

Replacements: Machenaud for Iribaren (56),Kolingar for Ben Arous (53), Baubigny for Chat (56),Oz for Colombe (47), Palu for Ryan (68),Chouzenoux for Sanconnie (3).Not Used: Gibert, Trinh-Duc.

Saracens: Daly; Lewington, Taylor, Barritt (c), Maitland; Goode, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, Koch; Itoje, Swinson; Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Morris for Taylor (13),M. Vunipola for Barritt (65), Davies for Wigglesworth (78),Barrington for M. Vunipola (73), Clarey for Koch (78),Hunter-Hill for Swinson (78), Clark for Wray (67).

Not Used: Woolstencroft.



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