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ASM Clermont Auvergne will clinch a home quarter-final with a victory over Harlequins this weekend at Twickenham Stoop and if one other pool leader loses.
The repeat of last year’s Challenge Cup semi-final is live on Channel 4, Virgin Media, beIN SPORTS, BT Sport and FR2 (15:15 GMT). Clermont sit in the driving seat in Pool 3 after beating Ulster Rugby last weekend, overtaking them in the process.
- Clermont have won their final pool stage fixture in eight of their last nine Heineken Champions Cup campaigns, with their only defeat in that spell coming against Bordeaux-Bègles in 2015/16.
- Harlequins have lost their last three Heineken Champions Cup matches against TOP 14 opposition, however, they’ve never lost four such games in a row.
- Clermont have scored nine tries in the final quarter of their matches this season, three more than any other side, while only Montpellier (1) have scored fewer in that period than Harlequins (2, level with Munster).
A weekend of crucial #HeinekenChampionsCup Round 6️⃣ clashes is just around the corner 😎
Find out where you can watch all the European rugby action ⤵️https://t.co/EJANaCDpaU
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 15, 2020
- Clermont have won 39 turnovers, the most of any club and eight more than Harlequins after five rounds.
- Clermont’s Fritz Lee has made seven turnovers, including two against Harlequins in Round 1, and no player has made more (level with Toulouse’s Joe Tekori),
- Harlequins have used 41 different players during this campaign, and only La Rochelle (42) and Montpellier (44) have used more.
- Only Racing’s Virimi Vakatawa (30) has beaten more defenders than George Moala (Clermont, 27) to date, while Harlequins’ top performer in this category is Semi Kunatani with 15.
- Clermont duo George Moala and Alivereti Raka have five tries apiece, and only Leinster’s Garry Ringrose and Teddy Thomas of Racing 92 have scored more (both 6).
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ASM Clermont Auvergne were made to dig deep as they saw off Harlequins 26-19 to top Heineken Champions Cup Pool 3.
The visitors made a quick start as a delightful attacking move was rounded off with a Camille Lopez kick wide to Peter Betham who had time to collect and dot down.
Harlequins responded with some lovely quick passing from the hosts and it was Luke Northmore who went over to equalise after just six minutes.
After a crazy start, Clermont settled into the match and won a penalty in kicking range, allowing Morgan Parra to pop between the posts and nudge the visitors ahead on 11 minutes.
Half-back partners Camille Lopez and Parra would then combine minutes later to find Apisai Naqalevu who powered over with the overlap creating a gap out wide.
Stunning. Scintillating. Superb!
What a way to score your first #HeinekenChampionsCup try!
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 18, 2020
On 30 minutes, Harlequins again replied with brute force from the hosts who took Clermont by surprise in the driving maul and it was Alex Dombrandt under a pile of Quins players.
The second half was a tighter affair with Parra adding six points from the kicking tee with Clermont nudging into a 26-12 lead.
Harlequins were not done with as Brett Herron chipped and chased his own pass, and as the ball landed awkwardly for Lopez, Herron collected to score and landed the conversion to make it a seven-point game.
The hosts piled on pressure in the latter stages but couldn’t force a final try over the line as Clermont clung on to win the match and secure Pool 3 qualification.