European Champions Cup final: Saracens should succumb to rampant Racing 92
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 13, 2016
Saracens v Racing 92
- European Rugby Champions Cup final
- Saturday, May 14th
- Grand Stade de Lyon, Lyon
- Live on Sky Sports 2
Carter to cap glittering career with European glory
New Zealand’s legendary kicker Dan Carter came to Paris outfit Racing 92 to win the European Rugby Champions Cup, and is one game away from that, as Aviva Premiership side Saracens oppose them in the final.
Racing are Coral’s 5/6 favourites to lift the trophy, but they are only reckoned narrow fancies ahead of Saracens at evens. On paper, however, there is a vast gulf in class with the French Top 14 team arguably better to a man in every position.
Sent off at 10/11 to win this final in 80 minutes, Carter and company are part of a Racing squad packed full of international names, and kicking coach Ronan O’Gara believes a ‘united’ front will bring a first major rugby trophy to Paris in more than 25 years.
“A different culture and identity”
“We’ve installed a different culture and identity, because there’s no [recent] history of winning anything at this club apart from a Pro D2,” O’Gara said in a recent radio interview.
“Now I feel there is a grip on the club which means the club can do something. Previously it wasn’t possible because of the standards, but we have something very good building.”
O’Gara also feels the head-to-head between Carter and Saracens fly half Owen Farrell could be key to deciding the European Cup, as the latter has kicked over 100 points.
Side with All Blacks experience, and an 11/8 price on the first scoring play being a Racing penalty is your reward. Nobody has made more tackles in this competition than Carter’s clubmate and Wales lock Luke Charteris (107), though, and if he gets them right then cheap punishment will be avoided.
Something’s got to give in the battle of the stats, and the internationally assembled Racing have such a richly mixed rugby culture that Saracens shall struggle to contain all their outlets.
Try threats galore
Thoughts turn to who will cross to put even more decisive scores on the board than penalty points and conversions. Racing scrum half Maxime Macheanaud has a knack of grabbing tries in big games and is 8/1 to go over here, while more established threats for the French side include full back Brice Dulin (5/1) and Argentina winger Juan Imhoff (10/3).
For Saracens, meanwhile, much will be expected from Alex Goode (6/1 to score anytime) and Chris Ashton, two players whose international claims have been ignored by England boss Eddie Jones.
“You look at Chris Ashton,” O’Gara added. “It’s incredible to think he is surplus to requirements at Test level.” A try here would be a timely reminder of his credentials, and Ashton is 10/3 to go over anytime.
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