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Home sweet home for Clermont

Tuesday 2nd April 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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How can you bet against ASM Clermont Auvergne after they posted their 58th successive home win at Stade Marcel Michelin last weekend? - 02/04/2013 00:01

How can you bet against ASM Clermont Auvergne after they posted their 58th successive home win at Stade Marcel Michelin last weekend? - 02/04/2013 00:01

How can you bet against ASM Clermont Auvergne after they posted their 58th successive home win at Stade Marcel Michelin last weekend?

Add in the fact they went through their Pool unbeaten, toppling their nemesis side Leinster Rugby, the holders, both home and away, and it is easy to see why the bookies are backing them to go all the way this season.

Had Wesley Fofana not lost the ball over the line in the semi-final against Leinster last season Aurelien Rougerie’s side might already have reached the final and, who knows, become only the third French club after Toulouse and Brive to win the coveted Heineken Cup.

But last season’s bitter disappointment has only served to heighten their desire to succeed this season. It means the visitors will have it all to do.

But don’t write off Montpellier without fully examining their credentials. They have a powerful scrum, explosive back row, superb outside half and an excellent goalkicker. They have also won their last five Heineken Cup matches.

Add in the fact they beat Clermont at their own ground earlier in the season in the Top 14 and you can understand why Clermont coach Vern Cotter is taking nothing for granted. If the brilliant Georgian Mamuka Gorgodze starts getting the ball in his hands and running, Scottish No 8 Johnnie Beattie joins in, Fulgence Ouedraogo gets amongst the home three-quarters and Francois Trinh Duc is able to control the game, then Montpellier are in with more than a shout.

But they’ll have to meet the Clermont pack head on to stand any chance. Once Rougerie, Fofana, Sivivatu and Nalaga start seeing the ball then it tends to be end of sports for the visitors.

Whatever happens, there will be at least one French team in the semi-finals as they go in search of a first Heineken Cup title win since Toulouse’s fourth in 2010.

Match Facts

  • Clermont are the top-metre makers in the Heineken Cup this season. On average they racked up 546 metres per game in the pool stage, a total of 3,274 metres.
  • These two clubs are amongst the top five for points scoring in the Heineken Cup this season – Clermont (2nd) average 36 points per match and Montpellier 28 (5th).
  • Morgan Parra, the tournament’s top points-scorer with 90 so far, has also contributed towards another 20 of his side’s points with four try assists – a joint-high in the Heineken Cup.
  • This will be Clermont’s fifth appearance in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup, but only once before have they advanced to the semi-finals (2011/12).
  • Montpellier have won their last five matches in a row in this competition – never before had they put back-to-back wins together.

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Clermont cruise into final four

Saturday 6th April 2013

12:00 am (GMT)

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Patients et pleins de maitrise

Patients et pleins de maitrise

ASM Clermont Auvergne became the first team to book their place in the Heineken Cup semi-finals after cruising past Montpellier.

The French giants were irrepressible at Stade Marcel Michelin with Sitiveni Sivivatu and Wesley Fofana running riot.

Montpellier made the better start but Clermont soon found their stride and they entered half-time leading 15-9 thanks to Fofana and Aurelien Rougerie tries.

Sivivatu claimed his side’s third touchdown in the second half before Lee Byrne put the result beyond doubt and Napolioni Nalaga struck at the death.

Clermont were knocked out at semi-finals, by eventual winners Leinster, last season but they will be one of the favourites to lift the biggest prize in European club rugby following another devastating display.

They face the winners Sunday’s clash between Harlequins and Munster, with the last four tie to be held on April 27.

Montpellier opened the scoring on five minutes at Stade Marcel Michelin with Paillaugue dissecting the posts after Benjamin Kayser was penalised for blocking.

They continued to pile the pressure on the hosts and the scrum-half added a second penalty on 12 minutes.

Clermont had a promising opportunity to attack with a scrum in Montpellier’s twenty-two but the visitors decimated the set-piece and stole possession.

Alex Tulou broke and he linked with Thomas Combezou, who fed Timoci Nagusa. The wing was hauled down but Montpellier were handed a penalty.

Paillaugue was unable to stretch his side’s lead but the dominance at the scrum struck a huge mental blow to the hosts.

Parra hit back on 20 minutes but Paillaugue quickly responded to restore the visitors’ six-point advantage.

Montpellier were dealt a blow with the loss of Francois Trinh-Duc mid-way through the half. The fly-half had struggled with a leg injury for several minutes before he was unable to continue.

Clermont grabbed the opening try on 27 minutes. Following some strong forward charges, Parra dinked a dangerous box-kick into the corner and Fofana finished in emphatic fashion.

Parra failed to add the touchline conversion but the try cut the deficit to a single point and they soon surged into the lead.

Sivivatu burst onto the ball at pace and turned three defenders inside out before drawing Lucas Amorosino to send Rougerie under the sticks.

Parra knocked over the simple conversion to bring the scores to 15-9 at the break, although he was unable to kick the scoreboard back into action following the restart.

But the hosts took a giant stride towards the semi-finals as Sivivatu blazed over for a stunning try.

Fofana made the initial inroads and he offloaded inside to the onrushing Sivivatu. The jet-heeled wing jinked past three defenders including Santiago Fernandez.

They sealed the win on 68 minutes with Rougerie superbly offloading from Fulgence Ouedraogo’s tackle to send Byrne diving over.

David Skrela converted to open up an insurmountable 20-point lead.

Clermont rubbed salt into Montpellier’s wounds as Nalaga finished another attack in the closing stages but the visitors had the final word with Timoci Nagusa scoring in injury time.

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