Dec 11, 2017
Inspired Clermont overpower Saracens
Powered by an outstanding performance from winger Aliveretti Raka and the voices of a handful of enthusiastic travelling fans, ASM Clermont Auvergne put in an impressive performance to deny an off-colour Saracens in snowy north London. The visitors coming away with a 14-46 score to move into top spot in the pool.
On a bitterly cold night at Allianz Park Saracens started the half brightly, creating early opportunities within the Clermont half and enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the opening ten minutes. Clermont too had an early chance to open the scoring when Wesley Fofana looked to be through only to be denied metres the line by the incoming Saracens defence, Mako Vunipola sliding in with an all-important tackle.
Saracens continued to pile on the pressure, but Clermont’s physical defence kept the home side firmly at bay and it was the visitors who were eventually the first to break the deadlock; Wesley Fofana providing a classy offload to set up Aliveretti Raka who crossed over after 12 minutes.
The try looked to invigorate the visitors who were now enjoying increased possession in the half. The Saracens defensive rhythm seemed to have been thrown out of kilter and it was not long before Clermont claimed a second score thanks again to winger Raka who powered through his tackler to cross the whitewash.
Man of the match Raka’s hat trick came on the 25th minute when Morgan Parra carved through the Saracens defence before offloading to the winger who sprinted over for his third score.
With the score line reading 21-0 Saracens eventually got up and running thanks to a penalty try just before the half hour mark. In awarding the try referee Nigel Owens also sent Clermont’s Fritz Lee to the sin bin and it looked as though Saracens might be able to capitalise on their numerical advantage in the closing stages of the half. As the seconds ticked down Clermont were penalised in their own half, and with Farrell electing to kick to the corner Saracens were given one final chance to attack. Try as they might though the men in black could not find a hole in Clermont’s water tight defence and the away side closed out the half with a 7-24 lead.
The second forty started at pace, with both sides looking hungry for their next score. Again though it was Clermont who bagged the first points of the half, thanks in part once more to the impressive Raka who’s pace saw him break away in midfield to create the opportunity. With the Saracens defence closing in Raka offloaded to Flip Van de Merwe who moved through the space to score, increasing Clermont’s lead to 7-31 to the joy of the boisterous visiting supporters.
Powered by an outstanding performance from Raka the Clermont attack showed no signs of slowing down and to the home side’s frustration the visitors crossed for a fifth score on the hour mark. This time it was Fofana sliding over the line, with Parra’s conversion taking the score to 7-38 with half an hour left to play.
Clermont had the game fully in their control now, putting relentless pressure on the Saracens defence whilst denying the Saracens attack at every opportunity. This was a fine performance from the French side.
Yet with seven minutes to play, and the game surely out of their grasp, Saracens’ determination paid off when George Kruis caught the Clermont defence off guard and crossed under the posts. Farrell converted to bring the score to 14-41.
It was Clermont who would have the final say in the game however, les jeunes et blues crossing for one final score in the dying minutes of the game. Toeava the scorer and while Spedding’s conversion flew wide the try rounded off a famous victory for the French visitors. Final score Saracens 14 ASM Clermont Auvergne 46.
Alex Goode; Sean Maitland( Earle 64'), Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt( Lozowski 3') (c), Chris Wyles; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth( Spencer 32'); Mako Vunipola( Barrington 62'), Jamie George( Tolofua 62'), Vincent Koch( Figallo 50'), Will Skelton( Earl 7'), George Kruis, Calum Clark, Schalk Burger( Isiekwe 48'), Jackson Wray
Replacements: Christopher Tolofua, Richard Barrington, Juan Figallo, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Nathan Earle.
Scores Tries Penalty try(28');Kruis( 74').
Conversions Farrell 2/2
ASM Clermont Auvergne
Scott Spedding; David Strettle( Abendanon 70'), Damian Penaud ( Betham 68'), Wesley Fofana, Alivereti Raka; Isaiah Toeava, Morgan Parra (c); Etienne Falgoux, Benjamin Kayser, Rabah Slimani, Sitaleki Timani( Van de Merwe (3'), Sébastien Vahaamahina, Judicaël Cancoriet( Yatto 23'), Alexandre Lapandry, Fritz Lee
Replacements: John Ulugia, , Aaron Jarvis, Flip Van Der Merwe, Peceli Yato, Charly Trussardi, Damian Penaud, Nick Abendanon.
Scores Tries Raka (13'-21'-25'); Van de Merwe (46');Fofana(60).
Conversions 5/5 Spedding 0/1.
Penalties Parra 2/2; Spedding 0/1.
Yellow card Lee (29')
Scoring sequence 0-5 Raka try; 0-7 Parra con; 0-12 Raka try; 0-14 Parra con; 0-19 Raka try; 0-21 Parra con; 7-21 Penalty try; 7-24 Parra penalty; 7-29 Van de Merwe try;7-31 Parra con; 7-36 Fofana try; 7-38 Parra con; 7-41 Parra pen; 12-41 Kruis try; 14-41 Farrell con; 14-46 Toeava try.