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ASM Clermont Auvergne welcome three-time Challenge Cup champions Harlequins to the Stade Marcel-Michelin this Saturday in a last-four clash as they aim to remain unbeaten this campaign.
The French club, who are twice winners of the competition, will look to avenge their final defeat from 15 years ago, with Harlequins seeking their first European final since 2016. You can watch live coverage of the semi-final live on BT Sport, beINSPORTS and FR4 from 20:00 BST on Saturday night.
ASM Clermont Auvergne: 1st, Pool 1, 30 points
Harlequins: 1st, Pool 5, 21 points
ASM Clermont Auvergne wins: 0
Harlequins wins: 1
ASM Clermont Auvergne: Peter Betham (50), Patricio Fernandez (39), Greig Laidlaw (38)
Harlequins: Marcus Smith (52), Alex Dombrandt (15), Joe Marchant (15)
📸 Check out the last time we faced Clermont, all the way back in January 2014#COYQ | #CLEvHAR pic.twitter.com/YiaVxKcMi8
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) April 17, 2019
- Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) told RugbyPass: “If you look at the Clermont team then they could be in the semis of the Heineken Champions Cup and Damian Penaud is very dangerous. The city will shut down for this game and these are the games where you want to test yourself and see what you are about.”
- Wesley Fofana (Clermont): “Since the start, this competition has been a target. We are getting closer to it and we are going to do everything not to stop here.”
- ASM Clermont Auvergne wing duo Alivereti Raka and Damian Penaud both start while the experienced half-back partnership of Camille Lopez and captain Morgan Parra remains in place.
- Hooker Rob Buchanan makes his first start for Harlequins since October 2017, partnering Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler in the front row.
- Clermont and Harlequins have met once before in the Challenge Cup, with Quins edging a 27-26 win in the 2004 final at the Madejski Stadium.
- Clermont and Harlequins last met in European competition in the 2013/14 Champions Cup, with the TOP 14 side winning both pool stage encounters.
- Two-time tournament winners, Clermont, are through to the semi-finals for the fifth time, and so far they’ve played three at this stage at Stade Marcel-Michelin and won them all.
- Three-time tournament winners, Harlequins, are through to the semi-finals for a sixth time, progressing from four of their previous five.
- Clermont have averaged the most points (52), tries (7.4) and defenders beaten (40) of any side this season. They also have the best lineout success rate (93%) whilst Harlequins have the worst (76%).
- Clermont’s Peceli Yato has won a competition-high nine turnovers and he also has the most tries (5) and try assists (3) of any forward.
- Harlequins’ Marcus Smith (52) and Betham (50) are two of four players to score 50+ points in the Challenge Cup this season (also Carlo Canna of Zebre and Bristol Bears’ Callum Sheedy).
- Clermont’s Patricio Fernandez has successfully landed all 17 shots at goal he has taken this season, and no player has attempted more without missing at least one. The next best is Sam Davies (Ospreys, 11/11).
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ASM Clermont Auvergne held off a late Harlequins fightback to win 32-27 at the Stade Marcel-Michelin and reach the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
A couple of early drop-goals from Clermont fly-half Camille Lopez either side of a Marcus Smith penalty gave the French outfit an early advantage, before Lopez’s half-back partner, Morgan Parra, added a penalty to stretch his side’s lead.
After a nervy opening quarter, the game came alive courtesy of some marvellous work from Clermont back-rower Fritz Lee, who took advantage of some excellent phase play to power over for the first try of the evening. Parra added the extras.
Two-time winners Clermont scored their second try shortly afterwards through Damian Penaud, after the France winger used his electric pace to kick past Mike Brown, collect the ball and slide across the whitewash. Parra converted the score.
They were made to sweat all the way by Quins but Clermont go marching on in Europe 👏
Newcastle bound… pic.twitter.com/2mwO2mYFp6
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 20, 2019
Harlequins, three-time winners of the Challenge Cup, responded with a try of their own via experienced full-back Brown, who finished superbly in the corner after some majestic work in the lead-up by Smith. The fly-half was unable to convert the try, though.
A Parra penalty ensured Clermont were comfortable leaders at the break and the captain kicked another two three-pointers in the 47th and 54th minutes.
However, Quins did hit back through tries from captain Chris Robshaw and replacement James Lang – with Smith securing the extras – to pile the pressure on Clermont and threaten a sensational second-half comeback.
That looked even more likely when back-row forward Alex Dombrandt went over in the 80th minute, but Clermont were able to hang on and book their spot in the Challenge Cup final on May 10 at St James’ Park in Newcastle, where they will meet TOP 14 rivals La Rochelle.
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