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European round-up: Saracens and Harlequins will head to Lyon for finals weekend


Saracens will face Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup final in three weeks’ time and Brad Barritt insists the Aviva Premiership Rugby side are better prepared than ever to go all the way.

Sarries have made the semi-final stages for the last four years in a row and after beating Wasps on Saturday at the Madejski Stadium they are now in their second final in the last three years.

But they are yet to lift European club rugby’s top prize and skipper Barritt admits his side will call on their frustrations from previous near misses in Lyon.

“In terms of frustrations in the past, by no means have we won anything yet,” he said.

“There is still this hunger and desire within this team. We now have a final to look forward to and prepare for.

“It [winning the European Champions Cup] has been a driving force for us for five seasons now. We’ve slowly edged our way closer and closer. We’ve gone from qualifying to a quarter-final, two semi-finals and a final.

“It would be the icing on the cake to lift the trophy, but we are not there yet and we are not going to talk about it until it happens. But it’s a huge driving force, and this team is very hungry for that success.”

Racing 92 will be their opponents after Maxime Machenaud and Dan Carter guided the French side past Leicester Tigers at the City Ground on Sunday.

Machenaud scored the French side’s only try while Carter was flawless from the kicking tee and Racing are into their first-ever European final.

And former All Black and World Cup winner Carter admits they will be up against it when Saracens come to town.

“I'd have thought Saracens would be favourites," said Carter, already weighing up the May 14 final in Lyon.

"They've probably performed best in this tournament and deserve their spot in the final.

"They've been leading the way, top of the points table at the end of the pool stages and have continued their form in the quarter-final and semi-final, so it's going to be a tough game for us.

"I've played against Owen Farrell a few times internationally, he's a great competitor, very physical, and he really leads that Saracens side extremely well.

"So I'm looking forward to coming up against him and that Saracens side.

"They've been the form side of the European Champions Cup and deserve their spot in the final.

"It's pretty special, part of the reason why I came here was to play in this competition and for the team to play extremely well and reach the final, it’s exciting."

For Leicester it was a case of what might have been as they wait for a first European final since 2009 continues.

But Richard Cockerill insists his side’s attentions have already returned to Aviva Premiership Rugby and securing a semi-final spot.

“We don't do sulking, we've just got to crack on: we've lost and that's the game," said Cockerill.

"We've got six days until we play Worcester in the Premiership, and we've got to secure our place in the top four and victory over Worcester will do that.

"We can't change it, so we'll look forward to trying to secure the top four and a league semi-final.”

In the Challenge Cup, Harlequins are into the final where they will face Montpellier.

Quins are three-times winners of this competition but they had to work hard for their spot in the final before seeing off Grenoble 30-6 on Friday night.

Nick Evans returned from a broken leg to score a try in the victory and the fly-half was very pleased with his night’s work.

“It’s fantastic, it was tough out there,” he said. 

“We wore them down and that’s where we got the points at the end.

“It’s a competition that has been good to us, we have won it three times and we want to go over there and give it a good shot (in the final). We are 80 minutes away from lifting a trophy now.”

Montpellier booked their spot with a 22-12 win over Newport Gwent Dragons and captain Fulgence Ouedraogo is excited about locking horns with Quins.

"At Montpellier, we don't play in a lot of finals. That's why this is so important,” he said.

"That's what we're missing, winning titles. We want to start with this final in Lyon.

"We're expecting a tight final against a Harlequins side that is very strong."
Saracens 24 Wasps 17
Tries: Rhodes, Penalty Try
Conversions: Farrell
Penalties: Farrell 4

Tries: Robson, Johnson
Conversions: Gopperth 2
Penalties: Gopperth

Referee: Romain Poite
Attendance: 16,820
Leicester Tigers 16 Racing 92 19
Try: Veainu 
Conversion: Williams 
Penalties: Burns, Williams 2 

Racing 92
Try: Machenaud
Conversion: Carter 
Penalties: Carter 3, Goosen

Referee: Nigel Owens 
Attendance: 22,148
Harlequins 30 Grenoble 6

Tries: Roberts, Evans, Lowe
Conversions: Botica, Evans 2
Penalties: Botica 2, Evans

Penalties: Wisniewski 2

Referee: John Lacey
Attendance: 10,563

Montpellier 22 Newport Gwent Dragons 12
Try: B Du Plessis
Conversion: Catrakilis
Penalties: Catrakilis 4, Paillaugue
Newport Gwent Dragons:
Tries: Amos, Meyer
Conversion: Meyer
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Attendance: 7,692

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