Clermont set up Leinster Heineken Cup Semi-final

Clermont ended Saracens and England’s participation in the Heineken Cup with a 3-22 hammering of the North London Club at Vicarage Road.


The victory for Clermont means that they will play Leinster at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux on Sunday the 29th of April.


Clermont made the semi-finals for the first time after three quarter-final losses with a 22-3 win over Saracens.


Clermont fly-half Brock James kicked 17 points after coming on as a third-minute replacement while Wales full-back Lee Byrne scored the only try of the match after Nathan Hines and Aurelien Rougerie had combined to create the opening opportunity.


Brock James came off the bench to put in a match winning performance and send ASM Clermont Auvergne into the Heineken Cup semi-finals for the first time.


The Australian outside half was called into action after three minutes when David Skrela limped out of the action after only three minutes at Vicarage Road and went on to dominate the game with his booming right boot.


He ended the afternoon with 17 points, from four penalties, a drop goal and conversion, and gained huge amounts of territory every time he kicked the ball out of hand.


It meant the English champions spent the game playing on the back foot and with this defeat went the last hope of English representation in the semi-finals of both European competitions.


As for centenary celebrating Clermont, they now have the chance to follow in the footsteps of Toulouse (4 times) and Brive by becoming the kings of European rugby.


It has been their stated intent all season and now they will go head-to-head with the reigning champions Leinster Rugby – and their former coach Joe Schmidt in Bordeaux.


Having started at a cracking pace, the visitors and their highly vocal band of 2,000 travelling fans would have been unhappy to have gone in at the break only 9-3 to the good.


But they opened the second half with a blitz of 13 points and the game was virtually over. Skipper Aurelien Rougerie created half an opening up the right touchline for Morgan Parra and the scrum half raced into the home 22 before releasing the excellent Lee Byrne for the only try of the game.


James, naturally, added the touchline conversion and then added a 40 metre drop goal out of nothing. Another penalty followed soon after and with 26 minutes left on the clock the Frenchmen had a 19 point lead.


To their credit, Saracens threw the kitchen sink at Clermont in the closing stages, but failed to add to their single Owen Farrell penalty.


It means the record of an English club always winning when there is a Heineken Cup final at Twickenham Stadium has been broken.


Final Score Saracens 3(3) Clermont Auvergne 22 (9)


Scorers


Saracens
Penalties: Farrell


Clermont
Tries: Byrne
Conversions: James
Penalties: James 4
Drop-goals: James


Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)


Teams


Saracens: A Goode; D Strettle, O Farrell, B Barritt, C Wyles; C Hodgson, R Wigglesworth; R Gill, S Brits, M Stevens, S Borthwick [capt], M Botha, J Melck, W Fraser, E Joubert


Replacements: J George, M Vunipola, C Nieto, G Kruis, J Wray, N de Kock, A Powell, J Short


ASM Clermont Auvergne: L Byrne; S Sivivatu, W Fofana, A Rougerie [capt], J Malzieu; D Skrela, M Parra; L Faure, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili, J Cudmore, N Hines, J Bonnaire, A Lapandry, E Vermeulen


Replacements: T Paulo, V Debaty, D Kotze, J Pierre, J Bardy, L Radoslavjevic, B James, J Buttin


With thanks to ERCRugby.

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