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Heineken Champions Cup: Clermont Auvergne 25-19 Sale Sharks


Fritz Lee scores a try
Fritz Lee scored the first of Clermont’s three tries
Clermont: (19) 25
Tries: Lee, Raka, Penaud; Pens: Parra 2; Cons: Lopez 2
Sale: (19) 19
Tries: JL du Preez, Roebuck, Rodd; Cons: R du Preez 2

Sale suffered a narrow Champions Cup defeat at Clermont, putting their last 16 ambitions on hold for a week.

The Sharks needed a win to qualify, but can still reach the knockout stage with victory against Ospreys on 23 January.

Sale put up an impressive fight as the lead changed hands several times before the first half ended 19-19.

But reliably-accurate Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra landed two penalties after the break to secure a much-needed win for the French side.

Parra clinches victory in quiet second half

Clermont’s Stade Marcel-Michelin is a notoriously tough place to claim an away win but things looked promising for Sale when Jean-Luc du Preez went over from short range in the fifth minute.

The hosts soon woke up and Fritz Lee found a gaping hole in Sale’s defence to score, with Camille Lopez’s conversion putting Clermont ahead.

Eventual man of the match Damian Penaud then sent a warning to France’s Six Nations opponents as he sped through the midfield to break up the wall of blue, offloading to Alivereti Raka for a try in the right corner.

Momentum swung back as Tom Curry stole a line-out and Tom Roebuck won a race to the ball to slide across the line and Rob du Preez’s kick levelled things at 12-12.

As Sale’s forwards dominated the battle by the try-line, Bevan Rodd managed to scramble over, but Clermont had the last word in the first half.

Lopez cleverly prodded a kick through Sale’s defence and Penaud gathered to score as full-back Luke James was sent to the sin-bin for an earlier deliberate knock-on.

The visitors managed to survive James’s 10-minute absence without conceding as energy fell out of the game in the second half.

But Parra’s reliability from the tee and Sale’s indiscipline proved the difference as the scrum-half claimed six points in the last 12 minutes.

Clermont’s first win of this season’s competition revives their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 and they now sit seventh in Pool A, one place below Sale. The top eight teams from each pool will advance to the knockout stages.

Line-ups

Clermont: Matsushima; O’Connor, Penaud, Moala, Raka; Lopez, Bezy; Biziwu, Fourcade, Ojovan, Lanen, Lavanini, Van Tonder, Cancoriet (capt), Lee.

Replacements: Beheregaray, Falgoux, Slimani, Jedrasiak, Dessaigne, Parra, Barraque, Vili.

Sale: L James; Roebuck, R du Preez, Janse van Rensburg, Hammersley; MacGinty, Cliff; Rodd, Ashman, Schonert, JL du Preez, De Jager, Ross (capt), T Curry, D du Preez.

Replacements: Taylor, McIntyre, Oosthuizen, JP du Preez, B Curry, Warr, S. James, Reed.

Sin-bin: L James (40)

Match officials

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

Assistant referees: Peter Martin and Dan Carson (Ireland)

TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)



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