Clermont await Munster or Toulouse in Champions Cup quarter-finals

CLERMONT AWAIT THE winner of the Munster v Toulouse clash in the Heineken Champions Cup after securing their quarter-final place with a win over Wasps.

Clermont will have home advantage at Stade Marcel Michelin for their quarter-final next weekend.

Kotaro Matsushima wriggled over the line with the last play of the game as Clermont came from behind to win 27-25 in the round-of-16.

Clermont trailed by five points with barely 20 seconds on the clock, when Wasps replacement Zach Kibirige went for an interception on the halfway line. He was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and was shown a yellow card. 

From the penalty, Clermont kicked for a lineout on the Wasps 22-metre line.

After Clermont’s forwards and bigger backs spent three minutes battering their way towards the Wasps line, Matsushima found a gap and, although tackled short of the line, squirmed over to level the scores.

Camille Lopez converted with the last kick of the game to send Clermont into the quarter-finals.

“I thought the boys showed massive character in the last 10 minutes,” said Clermont number eight Fritz Lee

Clermont have reached the final of the competition three times but lost each time.

“As a club, as a personal dream, we’re always trying to chase down that European cup,” said Lee.

In a wild first half, both teams mixed passages of attacking brilliance and brave defence with comical errors and missed tackles.

After six minutes, Wasps centre Michael Le Bourgeois burst through a weak tackle and flipped the ball inside to winger Paolo Odogwu who had a clear run to the line.

Two minutes later, Wasps fullback Matteo Minozzi caught a high kick deep in his own half, sidestepped three attempted tackles and then chipped the ball over the last shreds of the Clermont defence, running to collect the bouncing ball. 

He opted to finish what would have been a spectacular try with a theatrical dive, and dropped the ball.

Within two minutes, France wing Damian Penaud pounced on a sloppy Wasps pass deep in the Clermont half, beat Jacob Umaga and Odogwu before passing outside to Sebastien Bezy who cantered over in the corner.

The visitors took the lead when prop Peni Ravai crashed over from close range.

Wasps hit back when Bassett finished a fluid move.

Umaga converted a couple of penalties to put Wasps 20-14 ahead at the break.

Camille Lopez replied with a penalty after 52 minutes, but within two minutes Wasps had a third try as prop Ben Harris bulled over from close range.

Umaga missed the conversion to leave Wasps eight points ahead.  

Lopez trimmed the lead with a penalty and kicked his team to victory after  Matsushima had delivered the pivotal try. 

“You hold on, you take your opportunities,” said Neil McIlroy, the Clermont team manager.

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In the quarter-final, Clermont will host either Toulouse or Munster, who meet in Saturday’s second match.

© – AFP, 2021