Clermont thump Saints to book Euro Cup Semi

Clermont booked their place in the European Rugby Champions Cup by beating Northampton Saints 37-5 at Stade Marcel-Michelin on Saturday.

Northampton were put firmly in their place by Clermont who are locked atop the Top 14 with Toulon.

“In all fairness everything worked for us in the first half,” said Clermont hooker Benjamin Kayser.

“It was a great performance and great preparation, we’re happy to be in the semi-finals.”

Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley was blunt in his assessment.

“We got caught cold, and the blue-and-gold steamroller went and kept going,” Hartley told Sky Sports.

“We didn’t get a foothold in the game at any stage… They’re a hell of a team.”

Three converted tries, including a brace from Fiji-born France international winger Noa Nakaitaci, and two Brock James penalties ensured a startling 27-0 half-time lead for the French side.

Nakaitaci showed exceptional strength to burrow over for his first try, the winger then doubling up after James played the ball wide after a scintillating Wesley Fofana break.

Fofana was on hand to round off another stunning break by full-back Abendanon, with the experienced Clermont backrow of Damien Chouly, Fritz Lee and Julien Bonnaire completely outplaying their Saints counterparts.

James added a third penalty early in the second period, but it was Northampton who camped out in Clermont territory as they upped the ante.

However, the outstanding Abendanon was on hand to strip George Pisi of the ball and the twice-capped England international streaked away 90 metres for a try James converted.

Northampton finally got on the scoresheet when replacement hooker Alex Waller crossed for a try.

Final Score Clermont 37 (27) Northampton 5 (0)

Scorers

Clermont
Tries – Nakaitaci 2, Fofana, Abendanon
Pen – James 3
Con – James 4
Drop –
Cards –

Northampton
Tries – Waller
Pen –
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Leighton Hodges (Wales),
Assistant ref: David Wilkinson (Ireland),
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: John Charles (Wales)

Teams

ASM Clermont Auvergne

Nick Abendanon; Noa Nakaitaci, Jonathan Davies, Wesley Fofana, Naipolioni Nalaga; Brock James, Ludovic Radoslavjevic ; Vincent Debaty, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Jamie Cudmore, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly (c), Julien Bonnaire, Fritz Lee

Replacements: John Ulugia, Thomas Domingo, Clement Ric, Julien Pierre, Julien Bardy, Thierry Lacrampe, Mike Delany, Aurelien Rougerie

Northampton Saints

James Wilson; Ken Pisi, George Pisi, Luther Burrell, Jamie Elliott; Steve Myler, Lee Dickson; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley (c), Salesi Ma’afu, Samu Manoa, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Calum Clark, Sam Dickinson

Replacements: Mikey Haywood, Alex Waller, Gareth Denman, Christian Day, Jonathan Fisher, Kahn Fotuali’i, Tom Stephenson, Ah See Tuala

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