Thursday, January 17, 2013

Classy Clermont in charge { @JNCudmore }

ASM Clermont Auvergne have qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals but they will want to make sure they guarantee themselves a home draw in the last eight of the tournament.

The French side, who reached last season's semi-finals only to be knocked out by eventual winners Leinster, travel to west Wales knowing a win against the Scarlets would ensure a home quarter-final.
Clermont have already done the double over the reigning champions, Leinster, in this season's Pool stages and are viewed by many as favourites to win this season's Heineken Cup.
The French side recorded an emphatic 46-3 bonus point victory over Exeter Chiefs on their home patch at the Stade Marcel Michelin in their last outing and will be odds on favourites to do the same to the Scarlets.
Clermont are one of only three sides, along with English champions Harlequins and Top 14 league leaders Toulon, who remain unbeaten in the Pool stages with one game still to play and have had Morgan Parra in prime form.
The Scarlets European campaign never really got started and was really derailed after their morale-sapping 49-16 defeat out in Clermont at the start of the Pool back in October.
The Welsh side, who were Heineken Cup semi-finalists in 2007, have failed to win a game in this Pool and were on the end of another defeat when they were beaten 33-14 by Leinster in Dublin in the last round.
Match Facts
  • Scarlets have lost their last six ERC fixtures. Their only win in their last nine Heineken Cup ties was 16-13 at Castres Olympique on 21 January 2012.
  • No French side has ever won at Parc y Scarlets (four visits by Stade Francais, Brive, Perpignan and Castres Olympique have all ended in defeat for the visitors).
  • Clermont have won their Round 6 encounters for the past three seasons in the Heineken Cup.
  • ASM have won their last four away game - their best ever run of its kind in ERC competition.
  • Collectively, Clermont's goalkickers have seen 85% of their attempts go over this season, the highest success rate of all clubs.

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