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ASM Clermont Auvergne fly-half Camille Lopez wants to wrap up his team’s qualification for the European Rugby Champions Cup’s latter stages on Sunday.
Clermont travel to Gironde with an eight-point lead over second-placed Bordeaux Begles and only need a win or draw to reach the knock-out stages.
The French giants have dominated Pool 5, losing just once, but Lopez knows the threat their fellow countrymen will pose.
“It's going to be a big Bordeaux team, they are strong in front of their fans and capable of making a lot of movement in their play,” he said.
“We will have to expect a tough game – as we always would in the Champions Cup.
“We know them and we've been playing them for years. We saw they came very close to beating Montpellier, which is no small matter.
“We had a good result in the Top14, and we have to continue to take points and move forward. Now we have to switch to two very important matches. We have to finish the job and if we want a quarter-final at home, we must have two good results in Europe.”
Clermont’s progression to the next stage of the competition is all but secure, though Bordeaux’s hopes hang in the balance.
They are level on points with Ulster, who play Pool 5’s bottom side Exeter Chiefs on Sunday.
Bordeaux have lost their last four games in all competitions, but they will fancy their chances against a Clermont side who have won just once away from home since October.
Meanwhile, Clermont’s request has been accepted to add new recruit Stephen Brett to their squad for this weekend’s tie.
“I hope I will have the opportunity to express myself in the next block of matches. I feel very good physically, it's just a matter of integrating myself into the squad,” the New Zealand fly-half said.
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It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty effective as far as ASM Clermont Auvergne were concerned. Three penalties from the boot of Camille Lopez kicked them to victory and into the Champions Cup quarter-finals.
It is the sixth time in eight seasons that Clermont have reached the last eight and they will host Exeter Chiefs in Round 6 to try to ensure a home draw. Bordeaux’s defeat means they are now unlikely to progress as a best runner-up with their best total being 15 points.
The visitors had to come through a tricky start after going down to 13 men in the first half as Nigel Owens sent both full back Isaiah Toeava and prop Viktor Kolelishvili went to the sin-bin in the ninth and 13th minutes.
But the home side weren’t able to take advantage and a penalty a piece from Ian Madigan and Lopez meant it was 3-3 by the time both teams were back to a full quota. Having started brightly, Bordeuax came under increasing pressure as the half wore on, but it was 6-6 at the break after both outside halves added a second penalty.
Bordeaux came out looking to stamp their authority on proceedings as the rain poured down at the start of the second half and lock Tom Palmer got over the line, but was held up. Clermont did well to clear their lines after that and managed to grind out a few more penalty chances.
Lopez was wide with a drop goal attempt, but hit the mark with a 59th minute penalty to take the lead. He missed on the stroke of time, but by then it didn’t matter – Clermont had ground out a victory to take four points.
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