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Sale hope to end losing streak in France

Friday 14th January 2022

12:00 pm (GMT)

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Sale hope to end losing streak in France

Sale back-row forward Jean-Luc du Preez

Sale Sharks will be seeking to end a losing in run in France as they travel to ASM Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday.

The Gallagher Premiership side have lost on their last nine trips across the Channel in the competition, by an average margin of 21 points.

They have, however, won two of their last three away games in the Heineken Champions Cup – having lost the previous 14 before that.

The Pool A match kicks off at Stade Marcel Michelin at 5.30pm (UK & Irish time) and is available to watch on BT Sport and beIN Sports.

Other key facts

  • Sale and Clermont will face each other for the fifth time in the Heineken Champions Cup. Each of their four previous meetings have come in the pool stage; Sale won their two encounters in 2008/09 before Clermont did the same in 2014/15.
  • Clermont have lost their last four home games in the Heineken Champions Cup, their longest losing streak at home in the competition; they had won 35 of their previous 37 games at Marcel-Michelin, losing the other two.
  • Clermont have carried the ball for 828 metres from their 102 carries in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. Their average of 8.1 metres per carry is the second best of any team after fellow TOP 14 side Racing 92 (9.0).
  • Alivereti Raka (Clermont) has made three line breaks in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. Only Munster Rugby’s Andrew Conway (4) has made more. Raka has also averaged 12.1 metres per carry in the competition so far this season, the second best rate of any player to make more than 10 carries in the competition in 2021/22 (Theo Cabango leads with 17.7).

Key quote

Clermont head coach Jono Gibbes: “After the 80 minutes against Sale, we will know where we are going. Our best option is to put ourselves in a good position to perform well against this Sharks team. We will then see what we need to do before going to Belfast for the final round of qualifiers.”

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson: ““The lads were frustrated after last Friday, but right now, having worked off and sweated off the last game, they’re really focused on Clermont, buoyed up and energised for the weekend ahead.”

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Clermont edge out Sale for crucial win

Sunday 16th January 2022

7:46 pm (GMT)

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Clermont edge out Sale for crucial win

Fritz Lee, man of the match in ASM Clermont Auvergne's 2019 EPCR Challenge Cup final success, in try-scoring action

ASM Clermont Auvergne grinded out a 25-19 victory over Sale Sharks in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday – keeping their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage alive.

The two teams crossed for three tries apiece in the first half of the Pool A clash at Stade Marcel-Michelin, but largely cancelled each other out in the second period until two decisive penalties from Clermont’s Morgan Parra.

A chaotic opening five minutes saw dropped balls from both sides, but Sale ultimately took the lead as lock Jean-Luc du Preez went over following a rumbling maul.

But Clermont would hit back on 12 minutes through Fritz Lee – the No.8 picked the perfect line 20 metres out to stride over the line and dot down.

The hosts would then take the lead as Damian Penaud, lining up at centre, showcased his electric pace to burst into the Sale half and feed winger Alivereti Raka, who jogged over the line to score on 22 minutes.

Momentum would swing in Sale’s favour once more, though, with winger Thomas Roebuck gathering to dot down on 25 minutes after a nudge through by centre Robert du Preez and a tremendous offload from Tom Curry.

The visitors went over again as prop Bevan Rodd squirmed through the Clermont defence on 32 minutes, but the two sides would go into the break level as Penaud dived onto a clever nudge in behind by the TOP 14 outfit’s fly-half Camille Lopez.

It proved to be a double blow for Sale as full-back Luke James was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on in the build-up, but they would survive the period with 14 men at the start of the second half.

In what proved to be an error-strewn remainder of the game, Clermont’s introduction of veteran Parra from the bench was the defining moment.

The 33-year-old held his nerve to slot two penalties either side of the 70 minute mark, with Sale unable to register any further points.

There are huge Round 4 games for the two teams next weekend – Sale welcome Ospreys while Clermont travel to Ulster.

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