Sarries soundly beaten

Saracens Chris Wyles is tackled by Clermont's Aurelien Rougerie

Saracens Chris Wyles is tackled by Clermont's Aurelien Rougerie

First published in National Sport News © by

Saracens have crashed out of the Heineken Cup, losing 3-22 to French champions Clermont Auvergne to end all English interest in European competition this season.

Clermont overpowered Saracens and fly-half Brock James exorcised his own Heineken Cup demons with 17 points after coming on as a third-minute replacement.

Welsh full-back Lee Byrne scored the only try of the match after Nathan Hines and Aurelien Rougerie had combined brilliantly to create the opening.

Clermont will face defending Heineken Cup champions Leinster in a titanic semi-final in Bordeaux on April 29 - the day after Ulster tackle Edinburgh for a place in the Twickenham final.

Saracens, the Premiership champions, could not live with Clermont's physicality and James buried memories of his Heineken Cup quarter-final nightmare from 2010.

On that occasion, the Australian choked in front of goal and his two fluffed drop goal attempts at the death gifted victory to Leinster.

But James pulled the strings expertly after replacing David Skrela, landing four penalties, a conversion and a drop goal to thrill the estimated 2,000 travelling supporters.

James missed two shots at goal after Farrell had kicked what turned out to be Saracens' only point of the day and the home side finished the first half positively, earning two scrum penalties.

But any hope of a Saracens comeback were erased within four minutes of the restart when Hines offloaded to Rougerie, who cut a brilliant angle to create a four on one overlap. Morgan Parra took the ball on, drew the stranded Saracens full-back Alex Goode and sent Byrne clear for the try, which James converted.

It was not until the French giants were out of sight that Mark McCall's side were able to build any pressure, but Clermont's defence stood firm.

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