Heineken Champions Cup: Clermont Auvergne 29-44 Leicester Tigers

Matt Scott runs with the ball
Matt Scott scored two of Leicester’s tries
Clermont Auvergne: (14) 29
It tries to: Delguy, Fourcade, Belleau, Jedrasiak; Pencil: Belleau; Against: Belleau 3
Leicester Tigers: (27) 44
It tries to: Scott 2, Simmons, Kelly, Cronin; Pencils: Pollard 2, Gopperth; Against: Pollard 4, Gopperth

Leicester qualified for the last 16 of the Heineken Champions Cup with a game to spare as they returned to winning ways with a bonus-point win at Clermont.

Richard Wigglesworth’s side suffered heavy defeats in their last two league matches but appeared to have adjusted to life without Steve Borthwick in France.

Tigers Matt Scott, Harry Simmons and Dan Kelly scored in the first half.

Two more tries after the break put Leicester top of Group B before the other 10 teams play this weekend.

Following Borthwick’s appointment as England manager, Wigglesworth took charge of his first European game after being a struggling substitute in Leicester’s previous two wins in the competition.

After a difficult couple of weeks in the Premiership, the Tigers were comfortable early on in France with Scott’s interception, but Clermont hit back through Bautista Delguy after Handre Pollard’s penalty.

Sensational legs from a scrum-half from wing-half Simmons gave Leicester a second before Clermont number eight Fritz Lee was booked for a dangerous tackle in the ruck, in which he clashed heads with Ben Youngs.

The Tigers continued to look smooth as Kelly ran offside, but Alivereti Raka showed just how dangerous he can be as his break straight away led to Etienne Fourcade’s try.

South African scrum-half Pollard was powerful from the spot in his first European start for Leicester, adding a long-range penalty to take his first-half tally to 12.

It was Clermont who looked the better after the break when Anthony Belleau latched on to a loose ball to score after Charlie Atkinson’s last-ditch save failed.

Scott scored his second for Leicester straight after the Tigers’ back line combined beautifully, before Clermont’s Paul Jedrasiak produced a clever dummy to slot past Atkinson to cut the lead to eight points.

Leicester held off an increasingly confident Clermont and sub James Cronin sealed victory for the Tigers with a try in the 78th minute.

The French side move up to fourth in the table thanks to a four-try bonus point, but are likely to drop again after the weekend games.

Leicester’s final group game is against Ospreys on January 20, while Clermont face DHL Stormers the following day.

They set up

Clermont: Newsome; Delguy, Tiberghien, Simone, Raka; Belleau, Jauneau; Bibi Biziwu, Pelissie, Slimani, Jedrasiak, Amatosero, Cancoriet, Fischer, Lee.

Replacements: Fourcade, Beria, Kubriashvili, Annandale, Tixeront, Bezy, Plisson, Moala.

Leicester: Atkinson; Steward, Scott, Kelly, Simmons; Pollard, Youngs (catapric); Whitcombe, Clare, Heyes, Wells, Henderson, Chessum, Reffell, Jansen.

Replacements: Taufete’s, Cronin, Hurd, Cracknell, Ilione, Van Poortvliet, Gopperth, Potter.

Match officials

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

Assistant referees: Andrew Cole and Paul Haycock (both Ireland)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *