Clermont too strong at home for Saracens

Clermont booked a home Champions Cup quarter final by beating English club Saracens 18-6 at Stade Marcel-Michelin

Clermont finish the group stage as Pool one winners and despite the loss Saracens sneak through as third best pool runner-up.

Results earlier in the day meant that both teams went into the game knowing they were in the quarter-finals. The only way Saracens could have missed the cut was if they were beaten by more than 35 points.

That was never likely to happen and so the fight was for the right to host a game in the last eight in April. Clermont’s aggression, and two tries, carried the day and earned them a home game against Northampton Saints, while Saracens now have to visit No 1 seeds Racing Metro in April.

The home side got the scoreboard rolling with penalty from their new French outside half Camille Lopez before one of the forgotten men of English rugby, full back Nick Abendanon, picked a line between Sarries skipper Alastair Hargreaves and Richard Wigglesworth to cross for a try at the posts.

Lopez added the conversion and things were looking grim for the visitors. But Charlie Hodgson managed to cut the gap to four points with two penalties either side of the break and things began to look up.

Clermont lost their giant French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina to the sin-bin at the start of the second half for what looked like a punch on Jacques Burger, but not even that to halt Clermont’s relentless drive to victory.

Saracens scored three points with their one man advantage, but when Dave Strettle was sent to the bin for flooring Abendanon with an illegal shoulder charge it took a minute for the home side to snatch their second try.

Lopez kicked to the corner, Bardy won the line-out and five drives later the replacement prop Vincent Debaty claimed the try. Brock James completed the victory with a late penalty.

Final Score Clermont 18 (10) Saracens 6 (3)

Scorers

Clermont
Tries : Abendanon, Debaty
Pen : Lopez, James
Con : Lopez
Drop :

Saracens
Tries :
Pen : Hodgson (2)
Con :
Drop :

Match Officials
Referee:
George Clancy (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Leo Colgan (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Mark Patton (Ireland),
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Jeff Mark (Wales)

ASM Clermont Auvergne: Nick Abendanon; Noa Nakaitaci, Jonathan Davies, Wesley Fofana, Naipolioni Nalaga; Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra; Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Julien Pierre, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly (c), Julien Bardy, Fritz Lee

Replacements: John Ulugia, Vincent Debaty, Clement Ric, Loic Jacquet, Julien Bonnaire, Ludovic Radoslavjevic , Brock James, Zac Guildford

Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Chris Wyles, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Petrus du Plessis, Jim Hamilton, Alistair Hargreaves (c), Kelly Brown, Jacques Burger, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Brett Sharman, Richard Barrington, James Johnston, Maro Itoje, Ernst Joubert, Neil de Kock, Charlie Hodgson, Marcelo Bosch

With thanks to EPCRugby.

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