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Former EPCR Challenge Cup winners Bristol Bears and ASM Clermont Auvergne meet for the first time in the competition in the Round of 16 at Ashton Gate on Friday night.
Bristol, who won the trophy in 2020, secured home advantage by winning every one of their four Pool A games.
Clermont, who have won the Challenge Cup on three occasions, dropped into the competition after finishing ninth in Pool B of the Heineken Champions Cup, their only win coming against DHL Stormers in their opening pool match (24-14).
The match kicks off at 8pm UK time and can be watched on Viaplay-Premier Sports, beIN SPORTS and Flo Rugby.
Bristol Bears director of rugby Pat Lam: “We are looking forward to the game – we have just got to dust ourselves off. We have a few niggles and a few injuries, and we will have to manage our training and have a lighter week to be full on against Clermont, because they are going to be fully loaded.”
The ‘Zip Zip Man’ with a 𝓅𝑒𝓇𝒻𝑒𝒸𝓉 step 🔥
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) March 27, 2023
- Semi Radradra made more carries than anyone else in Round 4 with 18. He also made a round-high five offloads.
- Harry Thacker threw 17 successful lineouts in the Bears’ last game, as many as any other player in the round.
- The Bears have made 53 offloads during the tournament, more than any other team. They also have the highest rate of gain-line success at 61.7%.
ASM Clermont Auvergne
- Bautista Delguy made seven clean breaks in Clermont’s Heineken Champions Cup campaign.
- In Round 4 of the Heineken Champions Cup, Alex Newsome conceded five turnovers – the highest total in any of the final pool games.
- Clermont have been awarded a penalty or a try during 37% of their entries into the opposition’s 22 – a lower success rate than any other team competing in the Heineken Champions Cup
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Bristol Bears exited the EPCR Challenge Cup at the Round of 16 stage as they fell to a 26-33 reverse at the hands of ASM Clermont Auvergne at Ashton Gate on Friday evening.
Tries from Harry Randall and Semi Radradra late had put the hosts up 20-17 two minutes before the interval – AJ MacGinty adding 16 points from the tee in the contest – but four tries from the visiting French outfit condemned the 2020 winners to defeat.
Damian Penaud (2), Tomas Lavanini and George Moala dotted down for the visitors in a clinical display in addition to 13 points from the boot of Anthony Belleau.
PENAUD FROM NOWHERE 😱
The @ASMOfficiel winger sneaks in to touch down in the tightest spot 👀
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) March 31, 2023
A MacGinty penalty opened the scoring on 11 minutes, but Clermont responded with a kick of their own in front of the posts, Belleau good from the tee. MacGinty restored Bristol’s lead three minutes later with his second penalty.
It was the French outfit, however, who notched the first try of the contest with 23 minutes played, lock Lavanini with the close-range finish following a series of pick and goes. Belleau was successful with the extras to put Clermont ahead 10-6.
The visitors furthered their lead four minutes later, French international Penaud with a stunning line break to scamper home. The wing picked up the ball at the back of the ruck just outside the Bristol 22 to run in untouched, Belleau again adding the extras.
Clermont were then reduced to 14 men on the half hour mark as Fritz Lee made head contact with Bristol centre James Williams in the tackle and was shown a yellow card.
Three minutes later Bristol took advantage of the extra man to roll through the phases, scrum-half Randall with the dot down next to the posts.
Two minutes before the interval the hosts re-took the lead. Williams was the catalyst as he broke from inside his own half before offloading to Radradra, who limped home from the 22, the centre injuring himself as he crossed over.
That wasn’t the end of the scoring for the half as Clermont capitalised on a messy restart, centre Moala the beneficiary to score in the corner.
Belleau added a further three points in the opening salvos of the second half with his second penalty of the contest. MacGinty replied with a Bristol penalty five minutes later to reduce the deficit to 23-25 before another Belleau penalty extended the lead to five points once more.
Bristol’s Ratu Naulago then committed a crucial mistake for Clermont’s fourth try of the contest. A kick from Penaud was bouncing towards touch and wing Naulago was eager to let the ball drift out of play, but Penaud had the pace to dive in the knick of time and dot down his second of the afternoon.
MacGinty hit a penalty with two minutes remaining to reduce the deficit to a converted try, but Clermont held out to secure a quarter-final trip to Parc y Scarlets next weekend.