Clermont through to Amlin Challenge Cup Semis

Clermont Auvergne became the first side to book their place in the last four of the Amlin Challenge Cup after overcoming La Rochelle 13-23 in a tense quarter-final on the Atlantic coast.


he French Champions, who have won the competition on two previous occasions, will face further French opposition in the semi-finals when they travel to the winners of tomorrow night’s Stade Francais v Montpellier fixture.


On top throughout the visitors were made to work hard for their victory by a powerful La Rochelle outfit.


Fly-halves Brock James and Greg Goosen exchanged early penalties in a frantic opening.


Aurelien Rougerie created and scored the game’s opening try, slicing through the first line of defence and then rounding the full-back to touch down under the posts. The try left James with the easiest of conversions and he had no problems adding the extras.


The power of the La Rochelle pack took them back to within striking distance deep inside the Clermont 22 and Goosen kicked his second penalty of the evening after the visitors went off their feet at the ruck.


Clermont began to dominate both territory and possession as the first-half went on and James extended their lead with another penalty moments after missing with his third shot at goal.


But during a tense second period the visitors were guilty of not taking their chances while on offer and Goosen made them pay with fifteen minutes remaining as he sprinted in from 70 yards as La Rochelle turned defence into attack.


From his own line Sefulu Gaugau powered his way forward and it was his neat inside pass to Goosen which created the space for the full-back to confuse the covering defence and race clear.


Goosen added the conversion to tie the scores and set up a grand finale at the Stade Marcel Deflandre.


Clermont’s pressure finally told in the later stages as Kini Murimurivalu shoved his way over after repeated attacks and James converted to give the French Champions a seven point cushion with seven minutes remaining.


The fly-half then secured the victory with a late penalty.


Final Score La Rochelle 13 Clermont 23


Scorers


La Rochelle
Tries: Goosen
Cons: Goosen
Pens: Goosen 2


Clermont
Tries: Murimurivalu, Rougerie
Cons: James 2
Pens: James 3


Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)


Teams


La Rochelle: G Goosen, N Ligairi, S Gaugau, J Jacquet, F Ninard, R Lacoste, D Neveu, A Bares, F Pani, S Clement, R Mohr [capt], F Jacob, N Djebaili, P Som, Q D’Aram de Valada.


Replacements: B Geledan, P Toderasc, J Garcia, R Sazy, T Soucaze, B Dambielle, M Dall’igna, B Ferrou


ASM Clermont Auvergne: B Baby, A Rougerie [capt], T Pisi, G Canale, K Murimurivalu, B James, K Senio, L Faure, W Wepener, M Scelzo, L Jacquet, J Pierre, J Bardy, A Audebert, E Vermeulen.


Replacements: T Paulo, V Debaty, C Ric, S Lauaki, R Chaume, L Radoslavjevic , T Lavea, A Floch


With thanks to ERC Rugby

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