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ASM Clermont Auvergne will be hoping that home advantage will give them the edge against Munster in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup, as they go in search of a 32nd win in 33 pool stage games at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
The two sides have met seven times in the Heineken Champions Cup, with Clermont victorious on the last three occasions. The game kicks off at 17:30 (UK and Irish time) on Saturday and will be shown live on beIN SPORTS, BT Sport and Sky Italia.
Fritz Lee (ASM Clermont Auvergne): “I think, obviously, it’s not an easy challenge to go over there and play Munster. Munster is a very quality team as well; they always do well in the European Cup, so it’s a massive challenge for us.”
Sean Reidy (Munster): “The physicality and the speed is a lot quicker, and you just don’t get as many opportunities in these bigger matches. You might only get two or three a game, and if you don’t take them, you’re in for a hard night.”
- ASM Clermont Auvergne and Munster have met on seven occasions in the Heineken Champions Cup; Clermont have won five of those matches (L2), including the last three in a row.
- Clermont have won 31 of their last 32 home games during the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup (L1), including each of their last nine in a row.
- Munster are winless in their last three pool stage matches against TOP 14 opposition (D1, L2), this after winning six of their previous eight such matches before that run (D1, L1).
- Damian Penaud (Clermont) beat 10 defenders in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup, the most of any player over the weekend.
- Clermont’s Kotaro Matsushima was one of two players to score a hat trick in Round 1 of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup (also Lyon’s Xavier Mignot).
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A stunning comeback from Munster Rugby was punctuated by a 70th minute CJ Stander try as the Irish province beat ASM Clermont Auvergne in a 39-31 thriller at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
The French side led by 19 after 24 minutes on the back of tries from Alivereti Raka, Damian Penaud, Etienne Fourcade and a penalty try.
But Munster responded through the boot of fly-half JJ Hanrahan who kicked 24 points, and tries from Mike Haley, Stander and Kevin O’Byrne in a comeback for the ages.
FULL-TIME: Clermont 31-39 Munster
What a comeback, what a WIN!
From 28-9 down, we have beaten Clermont 39-31 in the Stade Marcel-Michelin 🥳 🥳 🥳
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 19, 2020
The French side took the initiative from the opening kick-off as they capitalised on a Munster knock-on. Clermont swiftly earned possession, moving the ball quickly to winger Raka who touched down after a mere 24 seconds of the contest.
Another mishandled kick-off by the Irish province led to the hosts second try. After recovering possession from an error, Clermont switched play with ferocious speed, leading to an intentional knock-on by Munster’s Shane Daly – a penalty try award, and a sin bin for Daly.
Clermont’s third try followed on 15 minutes. The French outfit moved the ball from a left wing lineout to the opposite flank where Penaud crossed the whitewash.
A bonus point try soon followed, Clermont forming a rolling maul from a lineout on the right flank, Hooker Fourcade able to power through for the score. Munster, in response, were forced to settle for nine points from the boot of JJ Hanrahan, as the score stretched to 28-9 after 24 minutes.
25th min: Clermont 28-9 Munster
70th min: Clermont 31-32 Munster
CJ Stander with a massive try to complete an epic comeback AWAY to Clermont!
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 19, 2020
The visitors eventually rumbled over on 29 minutes. A lineout of their own was moved quickly across the field into the hands of fullback Mike Haley to reduce the deficit to 12 at the break.
Early in the second half, Hanrahan further reduced the lead further with three more penalties. Camille Lopez responded for the hosts on the hour mark as game reached a tense finale.
With 10 minutes remaining the Irish side took the lead for the first time. After dangerous play in the lineout from Clermont’s Tibaud Lanen – who was sent to the sin bin – Munster capitalised on the error. CJ Stander rumbled home on the back of a maul, with Hanrahan converting to take the lead 32-31.
Kevin O’Byrne put the icing on the cake in the final few minutes, the TMO confirming the grounding of his effort to complete the comeback. The sides face-off in the return fixture in Round 3.