European Rugby: Stories from the weekend

  • Round-up of all the action from the weekend
  • Saracens through to a third Champions Cup final in four years 

A round-up of what was a weekend of semi-finals in European rugby, where English clubs made it through to the final of both the Champions and Challenge Cups.

Another final for Saracens

Premiership and European champions Saracens are into their third Champions Cup final in four years after they defeated Munster 26-10 at a highly-charged Aviva Stadium, on Saturday.

They'll have the chance to defend their title at Murrayfield on 13 May after producing a comprehensive display in Dublin to silence the vast majority of a crowd of over 50,000.

Owen Farrell was his usual trusty self with the boot in kicking 16 points, while his fellow England international, and British & Irish Lions tourist, Mako Vunipola scored the game's opening try.

USA winger Chris Wyles then made the result safe before CJ Stander scored a late consolation for Munster, as Saracens equalled Leinster’s record of going 17 European games undeaten.

They will face Clermont Auvergne in Edinburgh in three weeks' time after they defeated Leinster 27-22 at a sun-kissed Stade de Gerland, on Sunday.

Clermont scored two tries in the opening 15 minutes to take control before having to hold off a strong second-half comeback from their Irish opponents – and they'll be looking to make it third time lucky after losing in the final in 2013 and 2015.

Gloucester defy the odds

Gloucester became the first team to defeat French Top 14 leaders La Rochelle on their own patch this season, as the 2015 winners reached their second Challenge Cup final in three seasons thanks to a 16-14 win.

Fly-half Billy Burns scored all of their points at the Stade Marcel Deflandre on Saturday night, including an intercept try on 58 minutes off opposite number Brock James that opened up a 16-6 lead.

Faced with one of the biggest packs in European rugby, the Cherry and Whites found themselves under mounting pressure for the rest of the game.

Damien Lagrange hit back for La Rochelle, but James missed the chance to level with the conversion before the Australian veteran also failed with a late drop goal attempt and a penalty as Gloucester held out for a memorable victory.

Late heartbreak for Bath

Bath were within minutes of making it an all-English Challenge Cup final at Murrayfield on May 12, only for a late surge from Stade Francais to condemn them to a dramatic 28-25 defeat, on Sunday.

In what was one of the best matches in European competition this season, as a revitalised Stade opened up an 18-6 lead with an hour gone – only for the visitors to come storming back.

Three tries in eight minutes from Semesa Rokoduguni, Robbie Fruean and Elliott Stooke turned the match on its head to put Bath 25-18 ahead going into the closing stages.

But the hosts levelled through a converted Hugh Pyle try before Jules Plisson landed a drop goal with seconds remaining, although there was still time for more drama.

After Anthony Watson was stopped just short following the restart, George Ford had the chance to force extra time with the final kick of the game, only for his penalty to drift wide.