Chris Ashton believes Saracens are “in a good place” after positioning themselves for another full-blown assault on major European silverware.
The Aviva Premiership title-holders and current league leaders will head to Lyon next month where they can target European Champions Cup final glory after knocking out fellow English heavyweights Wasps.
Ashton has been a European finalist before — with Northampton in 2011 and then Saracens three years later — and lost on both occasions, while no English club has conquered Europe since Wasps managed it nine years ago.
And of those Premiership teams that have won the European title, only two — Bath (1998) and Leicester (2001) — did it on French soil.
“It is so tough to get to this final,” Saracens and England wing Ashton said, following a 24-17 semi-final triumph at Reading’s Madejski Stadium.
“Obviously, I have been there twice before, so it’s third-time lucky. We have definitely got the team to do it.
“Wasps are an outstanding team. We did enough to get over them, and I still think we’ve got a bit left in us.
“Going down 7-0 quite early, it’s easy to fold and take more points and try to fix it straight away, but we were quite comfortable with the situation we were in and always thought we could get ourselves back in the game. So I think that experience of previous years of being in these games, like the Toulon game (2014 final), is important. The team is in a good place.
“You’ve got to use the experience of being in previous finals. It is where you get that experience. I think you have to lose games like finals to finally win one. I just hope we’ve lost enough now.
“Finals are (decided on) fine margins. The last one against Toulon, it was one fluky bounce of the ball, (Drew) Mitchell catches it and (Matt) Giteau scores in the corner. That was the whole game, that was literally it. And the Northampton final (against Leinster) was a tale of two halves. Anything can happen in a final.”
Saracens recovered from conceding a try after just 73 seconds to Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson — and some un wayward goalkicking by Owen Farrell — before claiming a victory that keeps them firmly on course for a domestic and European double.
Goode; Ashton, Taylor, Barritt, Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, Brits, Du Plessis, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Fraser, B Vunipola.
De Kock for Wigglesworth (76), Saunders for Brits (74), Lamositele for du Plessis (76), Wray for Rhodes (62).
C Piutau; Wade, Daly, S Piutau, Halai; Gopperth, Robson; Mullan, Festuccia, Cittadini, Launchbury, Davies, Haskell, Smith, Hughes.
Simpson for Robson (50), McIntyre for Mullan (60), Johnson for Festuccia (69), Swainston for Cittadini (65), Young for Haskell (60), Jones for N Hughes (69).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved