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PREVIEW: Baxter wants Chiefs to have time of their lives

Friday 11th December 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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If ASM Clermont Auvergne think they are going to have another easy time against Exeter Chiefs when they return to Sandy Park they will be in for a very big shock. - 11/12/2015 17:56

If ASM Clermont Auvergne think they are going to have another easy time against Exeter Chiefs when they return to Sandy Park they will be in for a very big shock. - 11/12/2015 17:56

If ASM Clermont Auvergne think they are going to have another easy time against Exeter Chiefs when they return to Sandy Park they will be in for a very big shock.

The French giants scored 46 points in both games against the Chiefs in the English side’s debut season in the top flight of European club rugby in 2012/13, but this weekend they will face a team that is lying in second place in the Aviva Premiership and who effortlessly picked up a bonus point against Bordeaux-Begles in their last European outing.

In many ways the game will let Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter know just how far his side has developed from that debut season – and if they have any realistic hopes of reaching the last eight. They had a good recovery against Bordeaux-Belges after an opening defeat at the Ospreys and the next two weekends will determine whether or not they have got what it takes to rub shoulders with the best teams in Europe.

“They were two strange games against Clermont a few years ago. I remember watching and thinking we were alright, but then they would do something special and we’d be chasing shadows,” recalled Baxter.

“But we are better than that now as a side and our league position and performances show that. We are in a better position now that when we faced them a few years ago and we should be more comfortable in this sort of environment

“We beat a French team for the first time in the competition in the last round and I’ve told the lads that this is the kind of weekend to go out and have the game of their lives. It’s not every week you get to play against the team that’s at the top of the Top 14 at a time when we are second in the Premiership

“This could be an evening they could remember for the rest of their lives, they could celebrate together for a long time and look back on with huge pride. I want them to be really excited about it – we aren’t going to worry about what happened two or three years ago against them.

“I want my lads to play in big games, enjoy it and challenge themselves. We didn’t perform at a level we could be happy with against the Ospreys, but we’ve been in the right frame of mind in recent weeks. Let’s take a bit of emotion onto the field and get our crowd into the game.

“This pool is still a long way from being dead for us. A defeat this weekend will make it very, very difficult for us, but a win would make it very, very interesting.”

Baxter will be without Henry Slade and Dave Ewers, who are both carrying major injuries, but confidence will be high after their recent win over Wasps. A full house is expected at Sandy Park for a night that Baxter believes could be another seminal turning point in his side’s development.

Match Facts

  • ASM Clermont Auvergne have won both of the previous clashes between these sides in the Champions Cup, scoring exactly 46 points in each match.
  • In what will be their 15th match in the Champions Cup the Chiefs will be aiming for consecutive victories for only the second time.
  • Exeter Chiefs’ only win in their five games against teams from France in the Champions Cup came in their last fixture, a 34-19 victory against Bordeaux-Begles.
  • ASM Clermont Auvergne have won eight of their last nine matches in the Champions Cup and kept their opponents to single figures in five of those clashes.
  • ASM Clermont Auvergne have won five of their last seven matches away from home against English opponents.
  • Clermont beat 29 defenders in their opening fixture, the most by a side in a single game so far this season.

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REPORT: Chiefs serve up famous win

Saturday 12th December 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Devant à la pause

Devant à la pause

Exeter Chiefs produced one of the biggest results in their history as they secured maximum points at home to French giants Clermont Auvergne.

Clermont looked to be ready to repeat the 46-12 hammering they dished out the last time the two sides met at Sandy Park in 2012 when they raced into a 14-3 lead after just 20 minutes.

But a try in each half from Thomas Waldron and two late scores from Don Armand and Mitch Lees completed a famous comeback to blow the race for qualification from pool two wide open.

The Chiefs thought they had scored inside five minutes when they rumbled over from a driving maul but the referee and TMO decided they could not see if the ball had been grounded.

Clermont capitalised on the set back and hit the home side with two quick tries through Joe Gear and Aurelien Rougerie, with Morgan Parra adding the conversions to both scores.

But Exeter hit back with Waldrom’s first try to and a conversion and earlier penalty from Gareth Steenson brough the home side to within four points at half-time.

Chiefs went down to 14 men with 15 minutes left on the clock when Phil Dollman was sent to the bin for killing the ball at a ruck but five minutes later Clermont’s Peceli Yato joined him for a swinging arm on Will Chudley.

In the final quarter the the home side peppered the Clermont line and finally got a breakthrough seven minutes from time when Don Armand powered over after more excellent work from the Chiefs pack.

Baxter’s side then then wrapped up a famous win with a fourth try in the final minute of the match when Mitch Lees charged under the posts to secure the bonus-point.

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