European Champions Cup: Clermont 37-5 Northampton
|Clermont Auvergne (27) 37|
|Tries: Nakaitaci 2, Fofana, Abendanon Cons: James 4 Pens: James 3|
|Northampton Saints (0) 5|
Premiership leaders Northampton Saints suffered a painful exit from the European Champions Cup as Clermont Auvergne coasted into the semi-finals.
The French hosts led 37-0 before Alex Waller scored a consolation try for the reigning champions of England.
Clermont were superior in every department and Noa Nakaitaci scored two tries while Wesley Fofana also went over to establish a 27-0 interval lead.
They added a further try through former Bath full-back Nick Abendanon.
Saints improved after the interval but the damage was done during a disjointed and error-strewn first half.
While Clermont now face a semi-final against the winners of Sunday's tie between Racing Metro and Saracens, Northampton must quickly forget this result as they look to defend their Premiership title.
Jim Mallinder's side were handed a harsh lesson, especially at the breakdown, by Clermont, who already led through a Brock James penalty when Nakaitaci scored the first of four home tries.
|European Champions Cup semi-final line-up|
|Racing Metro or Saracens v Clermont Auvergne|
|Toulon or Wasps v Leinster|
|Ties to be played 17/18/19 April|
Fofana was the architect as Nakaitaci bounced off one challenge before forcing his way over.
Northampton struggled to contain Fofana and Nakaitaci, the latter scoring another try after being teed up by James to make it 18-0 after half an hour.
And former England full-back Abendanon then ghosted through the Northampton defence before setting up Fofana for a simple finish.
It took Clermont seven minutes to extend their lead after the interval, James kicking his third penalty, before Abendanon ripped the ball from the grasp of Northampton centre George Pisi and ran 70 metres to touch down.
There was something to cheer for Northampton's travelling fans when Waller went over 13 minutes from time but it was irrelevant in the bigger picture.
Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder:
"It was a very, very hard evening. There was some fantastic play by them - they cut us to shreds, particularly in that first half. We couldn't do anything right.
"They were very, very good. But I also think we were pretty bad. We knew we had to start well. It's very difficult to put your finger on it.
"We've had a few of these days where we've been well beaten by European sides and, on the day, you've just got to say well done to Clermont."
Clermont Auvergne full-back Nick Abendanon:
"It couldn't have gone much better. Part of the reason I came to France was to experience these kind of nights.
"I'm not really worrying about England. If I keep playing well there may be dispensation but that's not at the front of my mind at all.
"In the back of my head I've always wanted to play more for England. To maybe get that opportunity for a World Cup in England would be a dream come true."
Clermont Auvergne: Abendanon; Nakaitaci, Davies, Fofana, Nalaga; James, Radosavljevic; Debaty, Kayser, Zirakashvili, Cudmore, Vahaamahina, Chouly, Bonnaire, Lee.
Replacements: Delany for Abendanon (71), Rougerie for Fofana (61), Lacrampe for Radosavljevic (71), Domingo for Debaty (55), Ulugia for Kayser (63), Ric for Zirakashvili (63), Pierre for Cudmore (63), Bardy for Bonnaire (72).
Sin Bin: Bonnaire (57).
Northampton: Wilson; K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell, Elliott; Myler, L Dickson; Corbisiero, Hartley, Ma'afu, Manoa, Lawes, Wood, Clark, S Dickinson.
Replacements: Tuala for Wilson (59), Stephenson for G Pisi (73), Fotuali'i for L Dickson (52), A Waller for Corbisiero (55), Haywood for Hartley (61), Denman for Ma'afu (55), C Day for Lawes (41), Fisher for S Dickinson (55).