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DHL Stormers make their Heineken Champions Cup debut at ASM Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, looking to add EPCR’s prestige title to their maiden United Rugby Championship trophy from last season.
John Dobson’s men travel to the Stade Marcel-Michelin in fine fettle, having won their last three games. In contrast, Clermont have struggled so far this season, winning only one match in their last five to sit 10th in the TOP 14 table.
DHL Stormers will be spearheaded by in-form fly half Manie Libbok, who celebrated his first South Africa caps by scoring a stunning solo effort against Dragons last weekend.
Meanwhile, Clermont will be looking to get off to a good start in the competition, having failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals since their loss to Saracens in the 2017 final.
The Pool B match will be shown on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby, with kick-off at 15:15 (UK and Irish time).
Seabelo Senatla (DHL Stormers wing): “My first impressions [of the Heineken Champions Cup] would definitely be [that it is] something equivalent to the heights of something like the Champions League – the best of the best coming out to play each other – so it’s nice for us, because as an athlete you always want to be measuring yourself against the best. If you’re playing against the best of the best, then you get to measure yourself up there. It’s quite exciting for us to get our first go at it.”
Facing @ASMOfficiel and their Yellow Army at the Marcel Michelin in Clermont is renowned as one of the greatest challenges in the @ChampionsCup. So it is the perfect place for our team to kick things off on Saturday. #iamastormer #dhldelivershttps://t.co/4r7vjyahEl
— DHL Stormers (@THESTORMERS) December 6, 2022
ASM Clermont Auvergne
- Clermont wing Alivereti Raka made 13 clean breaks last season – more than any other player.
- Openside Lucas Dessaigne made more tackles in a single match in the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup than any other player – 25 against Ulster Rugby in Round 4.
- Clermont finished last season with the most effective line out in the tournament, winning 96% of their own throws.
- In-form DHL Stormers fly-half Manie Libbok is currently the joint-top points scorer in the URC (75). He has also kicked two 50/22s; no player has kicked more.
- In the URC, the DHL Stormers have the highest success rate off the tee, slotting 88% of their kicks at goal.
- The DHL Stormers have made just 82.5 carries per 80 minutes so far this season in the URC – the lowest average of any team in this league.
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ASM Clermont Auvergne recovered from 11 points down at the break to beat Heineken Champions Cup debutants DHL Stormers 24-14 at Stade Marcel-Michelin on Saturday.
Alex Newsome and Alivereti Raka both crossed for second-half tries for Clermont, with 14 points from the boot of Jules Plisson helping the TOP 14 side’s cause.
Stormers enjoyed a strong start and crossed through Dean Fourie but were ultimately overpowered after the break.
It was a ferociously competitive and physical contest from the off, with Stormers fly-half Manie Libbok exchanging early penalties with Clermont counterpart Plisson.
A second three-pointer from Libbok put DHL Stormers ahead on 21 minutes, and flanker Fourie then bundled over for the South African side’s first ever Heineken Champions Cup try as Clermont were unable to repel a rolling maul.
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 10, 2022
Libbok was off target with the conversion but Clayton Blommetjies slotted a third penalty before the break to see DHL Stormers take an 11-point lead into the second half.
However, Clermont were a different side following the restart, shifting the ball around with confidence and crossing for their first try of the game on 49 minutes as full-back Newsome finished excellently in the corner.
Plisson converted and then added penalty to move the hosts to within one point, and the TOP 14 side would then take the lead on 63 minutes as wing Raka, a constant threat in the second half, was picked out in space on the left and made no mistake in crashing over the whitewash.
Plisson had the presence of mind to slot a drop-goal and extend Clermont’s lead to seven points on 70 minutes, and his third penalty of the game shortly after wrapped up their win and denied DHL Stormers a losing bonus point.
DHL Stormers welcome London Irish to Cape Town in Round 2 in a week’s time, with Clermont away at Leicester Tigers, also on Saturday.