Strettle faces Champions Cup final reunion with Saracens
FORMER Rotherham winger David Strettle is braced for a tough reunion with former team Saracens when his Clermont Auvergne side face the English club in the European Champions Cup final.
Strettle, who spent five years with Saracens, scored one of Clermont’s two tries in their 27-22 semi-final victory over Leinster at the Matmut Gerland Stadium.
It means the French side set up a meeting with Mark McCall’s men at Murrayfield on May 13.
Peceli Yato and Strettle, plus the boot of Morgan Parra, put Clermont in control before Leinster roared back into the game.
Johnny Sexton ended the game with five penalties and converted Garry Ringrose’s try, but Camille Lopez’s two late drop goals took the Top 14 team home.
“That was a tough game. We knew Leinster wouldn’t give up,” Strettle said.
“We said we had to start well in front of this remarkable crowd and we did that. But we knew they would have a purple patch and they did.
“In Camille we have got a player who can control the game. Now we have to go and do it all over again in the final. You can see how good a team Saracens are. It is going to take a hell of a job to beat them.”
Mark McCall hailed Saracens’ “extraordinary” defence as they swept aside Munster 26-10 at the Aviva Stadium to reach the Champions Cup final.
To book their place at Murrayfield they were forced to absorb a ferocious first-half onslaught from Munster, yet still led 6-3 at half-time before pulling clear through tries from Mako Vunipola and Chris Wyles.
“I thought our defence was extraordinary. Our defence was the big thing. We soaked up a lot of pressure and coped with their attack really well,” said director of rugby McCall.
“The game started exactly as they would have wanted. We couldn’t really escape our half in the first half, but our defence remained good.
“We just need to stay patient and persistent as a group and not get frustrated, and I thought we did and the pressure eventually told. It was a brilliant occasion. Munster’s supporters are as good as any in the world. In the face of that, the fight and the togetherness we had to show to win the game was brilliant.”
Bath flanker Francois Louw found his side’s last-gasp European Challenge Cup semifinal defeat to Stade Francais a bitter pill to swallow.
Todd Blackadder’s men were beaten 28-25 in Paris as George Ford missed with a penalty effort with the game’s final play in an attempt to send the match into extra-time.
Tries from Semesa Rokoduguni, Robbie Fruean and Elliott Stooke had seen Bath overturn an 18-6 deficit to move back ahead, but it was not enough as Hugh Pyle’s 50m effort and the conversion and a drop goal from Jules Plisson sent Stade through to a final with Gloucester.
“It’s very tough to take. It was tough at the start, we didn’t begin very well. But we got ourselves into a good position with 10 to go and we thought we had it,” said back-row forward Louw.
DAVID STRETTLE: Scored a try as Clermont Auvergne beat Leinster 27-22.