Kiwis in Europe: Kiwis dip out on Euro silverware

By Campbell Burnes

Fritz Lee secures lineout ball during the European Rugby Champions Cup Final. Photo / Getty
Fritz Lee secures lineout ball during the European Rugby Champions Cup Final. Photo / Getty

Murrayfield has proven an unhappy hunting ground for New Zealanders seeking European rugby silverware over the weekend.

Saracens defeated Clermont 28-17 in the Champions Cup final, but Sarries wing Sean Maitland was injured. His fellow flyer Chris Ashton did, however, score a try, taking him to a record 37 tries in the competition. Sarries included six Lions in their squad: Owen Farrell, who kicked five goals, front-rowers Jamie George and Mako Vunipola, locks Maro Itoje and George Kruis and No 8 Billy Vunipola.

The sole Kiwi in the Clermont line-up was former Chiefs and Steelers No 8 Fritz Lee.
Stade Francais, minus the likes of Paul Williams, Aled de Malmanche and Zak Taulafo, won the Challenge Cup final, 25-17 over Gloucester.

The French club, inspired by man of the match Sergio Parisse, and with Wallaby halfback Will Genia to the fore, edged a Gloucester outfit containing fullback Tom Marshall, halfback Willi Heinz, lock Jeremy Thrush and props John Afoa and Josh Hohneck.

Heinz was yellow carded for a high tackle, and was then subbed by Lions and Scotland No 9 Greig Laidlaw. The latter set up fellow Lions tourist and industrious loose forward Ross Moriarty for a consolation try for the west country club. Marshall nearly scored an opportunist try, while Afoa was injured early. Thrush impressed with his work-rate.

This weekend is semifinal time in the Aviva Premiership and Guinness PRO12, while the French Top 14 playoffs kick off, as do the European playoffs for 2017-18 Champions Cup qualification.

- NZ Herald

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