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European giants Clermont and Northampton set for last-eight clash

Saturday 30th March 2019

9:00 am (GMT)

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European giants Clermont and Northampton set for last-eight clash

Northampton Saints fly-half Dan Biggar kicking against Ospreys earlier in the tournament.

Two former European Rugby Challenge Cup winners will lock horns at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Sunday evening as ASM Clermont Auvergne host Northampton Saints in the last quarter-final of the weekend, live on BT Sport, FR4 and beIN SPORTS from 18:00 (BST). 

It will be the third occasion the two clubs will have met in the competition this season, with the French outfit prevailing on both occasions in the pool stage, as Clermont became just the second side to achieve maximum points in Challenge Cup history, after the Ospreys in 2016/17.  

Pool positions 

ASM Clermont Auvergne: 1st, Pool 1, 30 points 

Northampton Saints: 2nd, Pool 1, 21 points  

Head-to-head record 

ASM Clermont Auvergne wins: 2 

Draw: 0 

Northampton Saints wins: 0 

2018/19 points-scorers 

ASM Clermont Auvergne: Patricio Fernandez (39), Peter Betham (35), Greig Laidlaw (27) 

Northampton Saints: James Grayson (38), Alex Mitchell (30), Ollie Sleightholme (25) 

Key quotes 

Rabah Slimani (Clermont) “We are all very excited about playing this game. This is the first knockout game of the season and our goal is to get the title. This is an important step against a Northampton team that has evolved a lot since our first game there.” 

Sam Vesty (Northampton) “[On Courtney Lawes’ potential return] Courtney is class, he gives us a different dimension to what we want to do so it’s very good to have him back.” 

Team news

  • Paul Jedrasiak replaces injured lock Sébastien Vahaamahina for Clermont, who also recall Peceli Yato at flanker and Tim Nanaï Williams at full-back.
  • Courtney Lawes starts for Northampton for the first time since January after recovering from a calf injury. He is recalled at flanker along with Lewis Ludlam. Prop Alex Waller and full-back George Furbank also return.

Match stats 

  • Clermont have won six of their seven fixtures against Northampton across both European competitions, including both pool matches this season and a Champions Cup quarter-final in 2015. 
  • This season, Clermont became the second club in history after the Ospreys in 2016/17 to register a maximum 30 points during a Challenge Cup pool stage. 
  • Sunday will be Northampton Saints’ fifth quarter-final appearance, winning their two most recent games at this stage having lost their first two. 
  • Two-time tournament winners, Clermont, have won seven out of seven home games against Gallagher Premiership opposition in the Challenge Cup, with three of those games coming in the knockout stage. 
  • Clermont scored more points (304) and tries (44) than any other side in the pool stage this season. 
  • Clermont averaged more defenders beaten per game (42) than any other side in the pool stage. 
  • Clermont’s Peter Betham scored seven tries, the joint most with Sale Sharks’ Chris Ashton. Betham also contributed five try assists, only three players made more. 
  • Clermont’s Apisai Naqalevu beat more defenders (27) than any other player in the pool stage, while teammate George Moala ranked joint second (25). 
  • Northampton’s Mike Haywood was on target with 15/15 lineout throws during the pool stage. No player took more throws without missing at least one. 





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Clermont reach last four after beating Northampton in 13-try thriller

Sunday 31st March 2019

8:37 pm (GMT)

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Clermont reach last four after beating Northampton in 13-try thriller

ASM Clermont Auvergne's Peter Betham scores the second try of the match.

ASM Clermont Auvergne advanced to the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-finals after an enthralling 13-try encounter with Northampton Saints, which they claimed 61-38 at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.

Superb hat-tricks from Clermont’s Damian Penaud and Peter Betham ensured the French club will play in their fifth Challenge Cup semi-final against another Gallagher Premiership side, Harlequins, in three weeks’ time.

After the quarter-final opened with a quiet 20 minutes, with Morgan Parra and Dan Biggar exchanging penalties, the game burst into life as centre Betham crossed for his first try of the evening.

A mistake from the Northampton back line then provided Penaud, son of Alain – who captained Brive to a European Cup victory 22 years ago – with an easy run-in to score. Parra converted his fellow France international’s effort.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Australia international Taqele Naiyaravoro was sin-binned for a foul after preventing a certain score. As a result, referee George Clancey awarded Clermont a penalty try.

Parra began the second half with another successful penalty kick, but it did not take long for Clermont to grab a fourth try. Penaud collected a divine pinpoint crossfield kick from Camille Lopez and set up Betham to power his way over. Parra was unable to convert the score, though.

Northampton responded with some great hands, with replacement Ahsee Tuala scoring and Rory Hutchinson converting his try.

However, Penaud was soon back on the scoresheet with his second try of the evening, after weaving his way over the whitewash. Parra was successful with the extras.

At a packed Stade Marcel-Michelin, what was to follow was nothing short of astonishing. Luther Burrell, Alex Mitchell and Hutchinson all crossed for Northampton in the space of four minutes – all converted by Hutchinson – to bring them within six points of Clermont.

But after a Greig Laidlaw penalty, Tim Nanai-Williams ended Saints’ dreams of a comeback victory by dotting down in the corner, before Betham and Penaud both completed their hat-tricks. All three tries were converted by Scotland scrum-half Laidlaw.

Alexander Moon scored the 13th try of the game at the death for Northampton, but it was Clermont who advanced to the semi-finals.

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