European Champions Cup: Northampton 34-21 Clermont Auvergne

Northampton's Ben Foden
Northampton's Ben Foden scored his side's third try
European Champions Cup Pool Two
Northampton (10) 34
Tries: Harrison, Tuitavake, Foden, Pisi, Reinach Cons: Mallinder 3 Pens: Mallinder
Clermont Auvergne (15) 21
Tries: Grosso, Toeava Cons: Parra Pens: Parra 3

Northampton achieved back-to-back wins for the first time since September as they beat Clermont in the European Champions Cup.

The Saints ran in five tries against last season's finalists for their first win in the tournament this season.

It was a first defeat in the pool stages for Clermont, who will have to wait until next weekend to secure qualification to the quarter-finals.

The French side still lead Pool Two on 18 points with one round remaining.

It was a much-needed European win for the Saints, who are already eliminated, and a second successive victory for Alan Gaffney as interim director of rugby following the sacking of Jim Mallinder in December.

Gaffney made three changes from the last-minute victory against Gloucester last weekend, which ended a run of seven straight Premiership defeats.

Tom Stephenson replaced the injured Luther Burrell with Kieran Brookes and Christian Day coming into the pack.

Clermont took the lead after two minutes with Remy Grosso powering over in the corner and Morgan Parra adding the extras.

Number eight Teimana Harrison replied for the Saints after a break from lock Api Ratuniyarawa but Harry Mallinder missed the conversion.

An Isaia Toeava try and a Parra penalty extended the visitors' lead, before Nafi Tuitavake scored a superb effort to get the Saints close at the break after replacing the injured Ahsee Tuala.

A Mallinder penalty and try from Ben Foden, who collected a loose ball and ran more than 60m to score, put the home side in front for the first time in the match.

Two Parra penalties edged Clermont back in front, but in the last 15 minutes Ken Pisi secured the bonus-point try for the Saints before Cobus Reinach added a fifth.

Quarter-finalists as it stands as of 13 January, 2018
Pool leaders (qualify automatically)Second-placed teams (top three to qualify)
Ulster 17 points (Pool One)La Rochelle 16 points (Pool One)
Clermont 18 points (Pool Two)Ospreys 15 points (Pool Two)
Leinster 18 points (Pool Three)Exeter 14 points (Pool Three)
Munster 15 points (Pool Four)Bath 13 points (Pool Five)
Scarlets 17 points (Pool Five)Racing 92 11 points (Pool Four)

'The players have been in some dark places'

Northampton attack coach Alan Dickens: "I'm really pleased for the players. They have been in some dark places over the last three months and I think it's a step up from last week. We talked about building on the Gloucester win and I feel like we've achieved that.

"It's good to see the players smiling and to see the ground rocking again. It's a game that means a lot to us going forward for the second half of the season. We have nothing to lose against Saracens next week and we'll be looking to improve again.

"Clermont are a good side and a tough team to play. We have had a difficult set of games with Gloucester last weekend, Clermont, and then Saracens next week. We scraped a win against Gloucester, but I thought we were a lot better today."

Clermont coach Franck Azema said: "It was tough tonight as Saints played like a team and we played as individuals. The Saints did well, I saw a lot of value in them tonight and they won.

"We knew it would be hard and we had difficulties, but we have our destiny in our own hands next week against the Ospreys. There's pressure on that game and we know it's a big one."


Northampton: Ahsee Tuala, Ken Pisi, Rob Horne, Tom Stephenson, Ben Foden, Harry Mallinder, Nic Groom; Campese Ma'afu, Dylan Hartley (capt), Kieran Brookes, Api Ratuniyarawa, Christian Day, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Teimana Harrison.

Replacements: Reinach for Groom (59), Van Wyk for Ma'afu (62), Haywood for Hartley (62), Ford-Robinson for Brookes (78), Paterson for Ratuniyarawa (75), Eadie for Harrison (78).

Not Used: Grayson, Tuitavake.

Clermont: Isaiah Toeava, Nick Abendanon, Peter Betham, Remi Lamerat, Remi Grosso, Luke McAlister, Morgan Parra (capt); Etienne Falgoux, Benjamin Kayser, Rabah Slimani, Flip van der Merwe, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly, Alexandre Lapandry, Fritz Lee.

Replacements: Spedding for McAlister (65), Chaume for Falgoux (65), Behergaray for Kayser (75), Zirakashvili for Slimani (62), Iturria for Vahaamahina (55), Kolelishvili for Chouly (62), Jedrasiak for Iturria (67).

Not Used: Trussardi.

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