Five-try Leicester beat Clermont and storm into last 16 of Champions Cup

Leicester qualified for the last 16 of the Champions Cup with a game to spare after a stirring bonus-point victory at Clermont. Richard Wigglesworth’s side had suffered heavy losses in their last two league outings but look to have adapted to life without Steve Borthwick. Matt Scott, Harry Simmons and Dan Kelly scored in the first half in France and two more tries after the break put Leicester at the top of Pool B before the other 10 teams play this weekend.

Following Borthwick’s appointment as England head coach, Wigglesworth was taking charge of his first European game having served as a replacement scrum-half in Leicester’s previous two wins in the competition. After a couple of rocky weeks in the Premiership, Tigers made themselves comfortable early with Scott’s interception score, but Clermont hit back through Bautista Delguy after Handré Pollard’s penalty.

Sensational footwork from the scrum-half-turned-wing Simmons gave Leicester a second try before the Clermont No 8 Fritz Lee was shown a yellow card for a dangerous clear-out in the ruck, in which he clashed heads with Ben Youngs.

The Tigers continued to look slick as Kelly crossed after a lineout drive, but Alivereti Raka showed how dangerous he can be as his break led to a try for Etienne Fourcade.

The South Africa fly-half Pollard was potent from the tee on his first European start for Leicester, adding a long-range penalty to bring his first-half tally to 12 points. It was Clermont who looked brighter after the break as Anthony Belleau scrambled on to a loose ball to score after Charlie Atkinson’s last-ditch defence failed.

Scott soon scored his second for Leicester as the Tigers backline combined beautifully, before Clermont’s Paul Jedrasiak threw a sly dummy to get past Atkinson and cut the lead to eight points. Leicester held off an increasingly confident Clermont and prop James Cronin sealed the Tigers’ win with a try in the 78th minute.

The French side move up to fourth in the table thanks to an attacking bonus point, but are likely to drop down again after the weekend’s games. Leicester’s final group game will be against Ospreys on 20 January, while Clermont face DHL Stormers the following day.


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