What pressure? Forced to impose himself to stay in contact with Ulster, Clermont made the maximum service, wide winner of Bath (52-26), after a test festival, Sunday at home during the 4th day of the Cup Europe, to offer a chicken final against the Irish.
The Auvergne, who find the great continental competition this season after a year of absence, are determined to go as far as possible. And why not to the end, after having failed three times (2013, 2015 and 2017) in the final.
However, the best way to reach Marseille, place of the final on May 23, is a priori to receive in the quarters or even the semi-finals, and therefore to start by qualifying by finishing first in your group.
To get there, they are faced with the hellish pace led in his group (3) by Ulster who, with his fourth victory, acquired (with the offensive bonus) on the Harlequins field Friday night (34-10), forced the ASM to imitate it.
Mission accomplished, therefore, to return to a point (17 against 16) and offer a pool final, January 11, again at the Marcel-Michelin stadium.
A victory and she would at least qualify as second best and would only have to finish the job the following weekend at the Harlequins.
If they reproduce the same performance as Sunday, the Clermontois should make the Irish suffer and give them the change of their first leg (18-13), even if they have a priori other arguments to argue that Bath, without the slightest victory in the competition and deprived of its best players (Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Cokanasiga, Louw, Faletau ...).
- Bonus in twenty minutes -
Eight tries registered, including four in the first twenty minutes (26-0) to put aside the offensive bonus point, Clermont offered a recital to its audience.
In the wake of dominating forwards, who entered the first try (Uhila, 4th, at the conclusion of a group-penetrating), Camille Lopez and the backs George Moala, Damian Penaud, Apisa Naqalevu, Alivereti Raka and Isaia Toeva se are delighted.
There was something for everyone, like first-hand trials (Moala, 20th), after aerial (Raka, 15th) or grazing (Raka again, 30th), or on solitary inspirations (Penaud , 8th; Lopez, 45th).
Inevitably, with such an advance, the ASM released the grip in the second period, much more choppy. But, if not the early injury (4th) of his young winger Samuel Ezeala, followed by the supervision of the XV of France, all the lights are green for the Auvergnats, who are rising in power.
Slightly in doubt in early November after a large defeat in Toulouse in the league (34-8), they have since, well helped by the return of their internationals, aligned four wins in five matches. For a single defeat, against Ulster, who will advance on January 11 for a tempting final.
© 2019 AFP