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Saints 34 Clermont 21: Saints secure historic Clermont triumph

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton picked up their first Champions Cup win this season with an outstanding bonus-point victory over Top 14 champions ASM Clermont Auvergne.

It was the first time Northampton’s history that they had won against their French opposition in five attempts, avenging a defeat in France earlier this season.

Both Saints and Clermont scored some superb tries, with Teimana Harrison and Nafi Tuitavake crossing in the first half for the home side, and Ben Foden, Ken Pisi and Cobus Reinach in the second in what was a fantastic exhibition of rugby at Franklin’s Gardens.

Clermont made the most of a perfect start, as Saints’ tackles weren’t enough to stop Reme Grosso from stretching past Ahsee Tuala and scoring the first try of the night inside the first two minutes.

Both sides put in heroic efforts in their search for the next score, with end-to-end play bringing Saints close to the line on several occasions.

And eventually they got over the whitewash, with Api Ratuniyarawa blasting his way through the French defence, before Tom Wood’s long pass to Harrison allowed him to fly over in the corner.

Harry Mallinder was then given two shots at the conversion as George Clancy – who referred last season’s Champions Cup play-off game against Stade Francais – judged the Clermont players to have charged his kick too early, but he hit the post on the second attempt.

Clermont replied almost instantly with superb offloading allowing Isaiah Toeava to sprint for the line for their second try of the night, pushing the side 12-5 ahead.


The visitors then came close again, Tom Stephenson – on his 50th appearance for Saints – preventing a score from a grubber-kick, but Clermont extended their lead to ten points at the half-hour mark thanks to Morgan Parra’s penalty.

But replacement Tuitavake scored a superb try when he tip-toed through the Clermont back line after latching onto Foden’s chip in what was becoming a very back-and-forth match, with Mallinder again unlucky to see his conversion attempt hit the post.

Saints very nearly scored in the opening minute of the second half, with Stephenson and Tuitavake both coming close, but Northampton settled for a penalty and Mallinder closed the gap to just two points yet again.

And soon after they took the lead for the first time in the match when Foden collected a French knock on and darted through Clermont’s left flank from deep inside his own half.

But following a second successful penalty from Parra, it was this time Clermont who closed the lead to two points, with less than 30 minutes to play.

A wonderful run by Clermont down the right wing was halted by Clancy for a forward pass, but the momentum was with the French, and a third three-pointer for Parra gave his side the lead heading into the final quarter of the game.

A massive fend from Rob Horne wasn’t enough to score a try, but Saints were deep in Clermont’s 22 and they weren’t looking to leave without some points for their efforts.

Pisi then secured the bonus point for Northampton when he stretched out of the ruck for the line, to push Saints 27-21 ahead with 15 minutes to play; Clermont’s defence was on the back foot.

And Reinach made it five tries for Saints after his dive through the cluster of Clermont players reached the line to send his side 34-21 ahead; sending the raucous fans inside the Gardens into ecstasy and sealing an historic European victory.

SAINTS: Tuala; Pisi, Horne, Stephenson, Foden; Mallinder, Groom; Ma’afu, Hartley (capt), Brookes, Ratuniyarawa, Day, Lawes, Wood, Harrison
Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Ford-Robinson, Paterson, Eadie, Reinach, Grayson, Tuitavake


CLERMONT: Toeava; Abendanon, Betham, Lamerat, Grosso; McAlister, Parra (capt); Falgoux, Kayser, Slimani, Van Der Merwe, Vahaamahina, Chouly, Lapandry, Lee
Replacements: Beheregaray, Chaume, Zirakashvili, Jedrasiak, Itturia, Trussardi, Spedding, Kolelishvili

TIMELINE
2’ CLERMONT Try Grosso, Conversion Parra 0-7
13’ SAINTS Try Harrison 5-7
16’ CLERMONT Try Toeava 5-12
30’ CLERMONT Penalty Parra 5-15
32’ SAINTS Try Tuitavake 10-15
HALF-TIME Saints 10-15 Clermont
42’ SAINTS Penalty Mallinder 13-15
44’ SAINTS Try Foden, Conversion Mallinder 20-15
50’ CLERMONT Penalty Parra 20-18
57’ CLERMONT Penalty Parra 20-21
64’ SAINTS Try Pisi, Conversion Mallinder 27-21
73’ SAINTS Try Reinach, Conversion Mallinder 34-21

FULL-TIME Saints 34-21 Clermont

Rugby

Saints 34 Clermont 21: Video Highlights

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

The best of the action as Saints crossed five times in a superb bonus point Champions Cup win at the Gardens.

Rugby

Stephenson: To reach 50 is really special

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Posting their first ever win over reigning Top 14 champions Clermont Aurvergne yesterday, Saints kept their record clean for 2018 while Tom Stephenson made his 50th appearance in the black, green and gold.

The 23-year-old, who was a part of the historic double winning season in 2014 but has been plagued with injuries in recent years, said that he was over-the-moon to have reached this milestone at Saints.

"It's about time," Stephenson joked live on Facebook after the game.

"It's been a while with having basically two years out but it's a really good feeling.

"Obviously I'm a Saints supporter, I grew up here, starting watching them when I was four so to be able to play 50 games for the club is pretty special for me and my family."

Looking ahead to more appearances in the Saints jersey and the immediate challenge of current European Champions Cup title-holders in Saracens next weekend, Stephenson said the focus was fully on keeping confidence high as Saints look to keep the momentum going in 2018.

"Two games in and two wins. It couldn't be going much better really. 

"We've got Saracens up next so it doesn't get any easier but we've just got to keep building week by week.

"We're out of Europe but it's about getting that team performance better, building more confidence and starting to get that winning momentum going."

Watch the rest of Stephenson's interview here...

Tickets for Saints' next home game, where a semi-final spot is up for grabs at they face Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, are available from the ticket office at Franklin’s Gardens, online by visiting bit.ly/SAI-QUI-AWC or by calling the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000. Prices start at £28 for adults and £12 for juniors.

Match

Northampton Saints vs ASM Clermont Auvergne

Player Stats

Northampton Saints
Clermont Auvergne
Northampton Saints
TCDP
1Campese Ma'afu
2Dylan Hartley
3Kieran Brookes
4Api Ratuniyarawa
5Christian Day
6Courtney Lawes
7Tom Wood
8Teimana Harrison1T
9Nic Groom
10Harry Mallinder3C1P
11Ben Foden1T
12Tom Stephenson
13Rob Horne
14Ken Pisi1T
15Ahsee Tuala
16Mike Haywood
17Francois van Wyk
18Jamal Ford-Robinson
19Michael Paterson
20Mitch Eadie
21Cobus Reinach1T
22James Grayson
23Nafi Tuitavake1T

Match Details

FT ScoreFull Time Score

Saints 34-21 Clermont

Attendance

8,253

Referee

George Clancy

Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
34

Summary

Full Time

Clermont Auvergne
ASM Clermont Auvergne
21

Opposition LineupClermont Auvergne

15
Isaia Toeava
14
Nick Abendanon
13
Peter Betham
12
Rémi Lamerat
11
Remi Grosso
10
Luke McAlister
9
Morgan Parra
1
Etienne Falgoux
2
Benjamin Kayser
3
Rabah Slimani
4
Flip van der Merwe
5
Sebastien Vahaamahina
6
Damien Chouly
7
Alexandre Lapandry
8
Fritz Lee

SubsClermont Auvergne

16
Yohan Beheregaray
17
Raphael Chaume
18
Davit Zirakashvili
19
Paul Jedrasiak
20
Arthur Iturria
21
Vincenzo Trussardi
22
Scott Spedding
23
Viktor Kolelishvili
Rugby

Saints name side to take on French champions

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Tom Stephenson, Kieran Brookes and Christian Day have all come into Northampton Saints’ starting line-up to take on Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup.

Technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney and interim head coach Alan Dickens have made three changes to the side that began last week’s triumph over Gloucester, as the Saints take on the Top 14 Champions at Franklin’s Gardens, kick-off 5.30pm.

Northampton opened up 2018 in style against the Cherry & Whites, scoring a last-minute penalty try to win 22-19 and end a run of frustrating results in the Aviva Premiership – and will now smell blood with nothing to lose in the competition against Clermont.

The only change to the back-line is caused by the ankle injury that saw Luther Burrell hobble off against Gloucester.

Stephenson comes in to replace him in the midfield after a tenacious showing off the bench last weekend, and the inside centre will celebrate his 50th appearance in the Black, Green and Gold.

Nic Groom and Harry Mallinder will continue to build their half-back partnership, with Ahsee Tuala staying at full-back and Ken Pisi – who scored on his return to the side against Gloucester – and Ben Foden remaining on the wings.

Brookes also continues his comeback from a hand injury with his first start since November, joining skipper Dylan Hartley and Campese Ma’afu in the front row.

And with Day coming into the second row alongside Api Ratuniyarawa, Courtney Lawes shifts to blindside flanker.

“The players fully understand that we didn’t perform particularly well last week, but we got the result we needed,” said Gaffney.

“We fought hard and showed a lot of commitment in what we did which was pleasing, but we understand we still made a lot of mistakes which we’ve got to rectify over time.

“Our game management has to be better at times, but we’ve addressed that and done a lot of work to understand where we can start transferring pressure away from us.

“The next two weeks still mean a lot to us and we’ve got to perform. There’s an enormous amount of improvement still left in us, and we’ve got to go in and take another step forwards.”

Tickets are still available for Saints' European Champions Cup clash with ASM Clermont Auvergne from the ticket office at Franklin’s Gardens, online by visiting bit.ly/SAI-CLE-EPCR or by calling the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000. Prices start at £32 for adults and £14 for juniors.

SAINTS V CLERMONT TEAM NEWS
European Champions Cup, Round 5
Franklin’s Gardens
Saturday 13 January, 2018
Kick-off: 5.30pm 

SAINTS CLERMONT

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ken Pisi
13 Rob Horne
12 Tom Stephenson
11 Ben Foden
10 Harry Mallinder
9 Nic Groom

1 Campese Ma’afu
2 Dylan Hartley (capt)
3 Kieran Brookes
4 Api Ratuniyarawa
5 Christian Day
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Tom Wood
8 Teimana Harrison 

Replacements:
16 Mikey Haywood
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Jamal Ford-Robinson
19 Michael Paterson
20 Mitch Eadie
21 Cobus Reinach
22 James Grayson
23 Nafi Tuitavake

 

15 Isaiah Toeava
14 Nick Abendanon
13 Peter Betham
12 Rémi Lamerat
11 Remi Grosso
10 Luke McAlister
9 Morgan Parra (capt) 

1 Etienne Falgoux
2 Benjamin Kayser
3 Rabah Slimani
4 Flip Van Der Merwe
5 Sébastien Vahaamahina
6 Damien Chouly
7 Alexandre Lapandry
8 Fritz Lee

Replacements:
16 Yohan Beheregaray
17 Raphael Chaume
18 Davit Zirakashvili
19 Paul Jedrasiak
20 Art hur Iturria
21 Charly Trussardi
22 Scott Spedding
23 Viktor Kolelishvili

Injury update:
Tom Collins (foot), Alex Waller (arm), Jamie Elliott (hamstring), Rory Hutchinson (back), George North (knee), Piers Francis (concussion), Stephen Myler (ribs), and Luther Burrell (calf) are unavailable for selection.

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Clermont Auvergne
ASM Clermont AuvergneCLE65011651046116142022
4
Northampton Saints
Northampton SaintsNOR6105115239-1241631206
Form Guide

Form

LWWLW

Last match

Beat Worcester 32-24

Past meeting

Won 34-21
Full Time
Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
34
Clermont Auvergne
ASM Clermont Auvergne
21