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PREVIEW: Chiefs look to take command

Thursday 17th December 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Les Auvergnats sont tombés de haut samedi dernier face à la fougue d'Exeter (14-31). Pour se relever et revenir dans la course dans cette Poule 4

Les Auvergnats sont tombés de haut samedi dernier face à la fougue d'Exeter (14-31). Pour se relever et revenir dans la course dans cette Poule 4

Exeter Chiefs back-row Don Armand reckons their last minute capture of a bonus-point in the famous win over ASM Clermont Auvergne could make all the difference in the race for the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The Chiefs’ quarter-final chances were boosted when Mitch Lees rumbled over from close range to make it a five-point win and send them top of Pool Two. But there is no time to rest for the Sandy Park side, who are hoping to do it all again in the Stade Marcel Michelin cauldron on Sunday.

Rob Baxter’s man have banished their sluggish start at the Ospreys with victories against Bordeaux-Begles and Clermont, and a win in France would put them right in contention for a last eight spot. But they will have to become the first team to claim a European victory on Clermont soil since 2011.

The Chiefs were down 14-3 before Thomas Waldrom barged over for a brace and Armand joined Lees on the scoresheet. And the flanker reckons the last minute score could drag them into the knockout rounds.

He said: “That fourth try was huge – you don’t know how much that bonus point will help us at the end of the day. The first thing Rob said after the game was what a massive, massive game it is now this weekend. We basically have to reset and come back knowing it will be an even bigger game now.

“There was a lot of chat about them being top of their league and us being near the top of ours and it was going to be a big clash. We picked it up though, it was a good game and we got some good tries. We are getting good conversions when we go to the opposition 22. We have to work hard for them and the guys have learned it is all worth working hard for when you get those points.”

Match Facts

  • Exeter Chiefs won their first match against ASM Clermont Auvergne when they clashed in the last round, a 31-14 victory snapping a streak of two wins for the French side.
  • This was the first time since 2011 that Clermont had lost a third or fourth round fixture in the Champions Cup.
  • Exeter have strung together wins against Bordeaux-Begles and ASM Clermont Auvergne, another win against the French outfit would be the third in a row for Exeter, their best ever run in the Champions Cup.
  • Exeter have averaged more time in possession of the ball so far than any other side (22m 58s), whilst Clermont have averaged the least time in possession (13m 21s).
  • Jack Nowell has made more carries (45) and beaten more defenders (19) than anyone else in the Champions Cup this season so far.
  • Clermont are one of four sides with a 100% scrum success rate this season; however they have the lowest lineout success rate (71%) in the tournament.
  • Gareth  Steenson is yet to miss a shot at goal this season, slotting all eight efforts he has had so far.
  • Camille Lopez (4/4) and Morgan Parra (4/4) both have 100% goal kicking success rates as well.
  • Clermont have averaged 11.5 turnovers won per game so far, the best rate of any side.
  • Exeter have lost six of their eight trips to play in France in European competition (Champions Cup and Challenge Cup) however they did win on their last excursion there (La Rochelle, December 2014).


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REPORT: Clermont back in the groove

Sunday 20th December 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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En grande difficulté lors du match aller face à Exeter

En grande difficulté lors du match aller face à Exeter

Exeter Chiefs’ were made to pay for their bonus-point win over French giants ASM Clermont Auvergne as they were put to the sword in the return game in the Champions Cup at Stade Marcel-Michelin.

Despite a bright start, in which they kept the ball for almost three minutes from the kick-off and earned a penalty from Gareth Steenson, the Chiefs were then on the end of a hiding as last season’s beaten finalists got back on course for another stab at the title in Pool 2.

Even though the home side lost outside half Camille Lopez to the first of the game’s four yellow cards after only three minutes, Clermont turned on the style to end those 10 minutes with a 13-3 lead.

Successive errors from the Chiefs led to Morgan Parra kicking a simple penalty, Scott Spedding then launched a massive kick from a metre inside his own half and then former England wing Dave Strettle raced 30 metres to the posts to score.

With Parra adding the conversion points to Strettle’s third try in Europe this season the home side were on the march early doors and obviously intent on avenging their 31-14 defeat at Sandy Park last weekend. The little scrum half then added a penalty to stretch the lead to 16-3.

The Chiefs lost No 8 Thomas Waldrom to the sin-bin for ripping the ball out of the arms of a Clermont player on the floor and the visitors paid a heavy price for his loss. By the time he returned they had conceded two tries – Alexandre Lapandry and Fritz Lee – and 12 points and were 25 points adrift of their hosts.

There were two more tries for the home fans to savour before the end – their last home defeat in the European Cup came against Sale Sharks in 2008 – with giant lock Sebastien Vahaamahina driving over and then Wales and British & Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies crossing in the corner.

The Ospreys, who top the Pool with 12 points despite their defeat in Bordeaux at the weekend, had hit back to pick up two losing bonus points in Clermont, but the Chiefs could only manage one try at the death – and that after Clermont had lost two players to the sin-bin.

Italian referee Marius Mitrea sent Vito Kolelishvili and Clement Ric to the sidelines for their parts in pulling down two Chiefs’ driving line-outs. Against 13 men the Aviva Premiership side were able to push Tom Johnson over for a try which Will Holley converted to give them a minor boost five minutes from time.

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