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2019 Challenge Cup winners ASM Clermont Auvergne will look to mirror last year’s campaign by opening up this season with a victory over Harlequins at Stade Marcel-Michelin on Saturday. You can watch the Pool 3 match on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS from 17:30 GMT.
- Franck Azema (Clermont): “We’re really looking forward to rediscovering the atmosphere at the Stade Michelin in the Champions Cup, so it’s exciting for us. We can’t wait to see that and to see our fans rediscovering those feelings too. First and foremost, it will be about what we can give on the field. We know Harlequins’ quality. They are used to playing in these competitions and play good rugby. They have a lot of internationals too and they have a daring team, who tackled a lot when we met them recently. So, we know each other quite well.
- Adam Jones (Harlequins): Obviously, [they are] a hugely experienced team, one of the best sides in France, amazing home support [with] the blue and yellow. It’s one of the best stadiums to play in, in France and in Europe really, in a club venue. Obviously, it’s going to hard but we played them last year in the semi-final of the other competition and we pushed them pretty hard. I think we got shocked by the intensity they brought but that died off a bit due to us playing well and due to us playing to our strengths. Hopefully, we can give them a good test.
🔟 tantalising match-ups as #HeinekenChampionsCup returns 🙌
All games are on @btsport, and one free to air game each week will be on @C4Sport and @VirginMedia_One 🤩
Here's where you can watch each game this weekend 📺⬇️https://t.co/Q1R5IHf3tI
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 15, 2019
- The two sides have met four times in the Heineken Champions Cup, with the last three victories going to the French side.
- They clashed in the Challenge Cup last season in the semi-final, with Clermont holding on to secure a 32-27 victory over Harlequins and would go on to win the competition.
- Clermont have won their last three Heineken Champions Cup opening away matches.
- The top four players for defenders beaten in the Challenge Cup last season were all from Clermont (Raka, Naqalevu, Moala and Betham)
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Clermont fired out a warning to the rest of their Heineken Champions Cup rivals as they overpowered Harlequins 53-21 in Pool 3 at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin.
Fijian duo Peceli Yato and Alivereti Raka were too hot to handle with a brace of tries apiece as their powerhouse running cut through the visitors’ defence time after time.
Yaka struck as early as the 11th minute when he scooped up a loose pass from Quins centre Francis Saili to charge through unchallenged for the opening try.
The bar has been raised by @ASMOfficiel 😳
A dominant display at home as they comfortably see off @Harlequins 💪
Could they go back-to-back #ChallengeCupRugby to #HeinekenChampionsCup winners?? pic.twitter.com/ACzWjzXk83
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) November 16, 2019
Returning Harlequins full-back Mike Brown was then hammered in a tackle and Clermont were clinical with the finish as Camille Lopez chipped ahead for Raka and Yato was on hand to provide a stunning finish.
Raka then went on the rampage again for his fellow countryman to again provide another powerhouse finish for his second try.
Yato was denied a brilliant hat-trick due to a knock-on in the build-up and although Harlequins finally got on the scoreboard when Tom Lawday went in from Danny Care’s pass, Morgan Parra’s penalty saw Clermont go in at the break with a 25-7 advantage.
Clermont again showed their running power on the re-start as Isaia Toeava finished off a break from fellow centre George Moala and despite a brave response from Quins with tries from Elia Elia and a stunner from James Lang after a brilliant run from winger Gabriel Ibitoye there was no stopping the home side.
Lopez was again the architect as his precision kicks first set up a second for Raka and then a deserved effort for Moala with Mike Tadjer adding their seventh touchdown five minutes from time.
Harlequins will attempt to get back on track when they meet English rivals Bath at the Twickenham Stoop next Saturday while Clermont face a mouth-watering challenge at Ulster.
70 mins – @langers95 pulls a try back, supporting Ibitoye’s brilliant run to touch down. Smith adds the conversion.
ASM 46-21 Quins#COYQ #ASMHAR pic.twitter.com/3uWxrATmHd
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) November 16, 2019
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