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Clermont run Ulster ragged

CHALLENGE CUP REPORT: ASM Clermont Auvergne ran Ulster ragged in the second half of their EPCR Challenge Cup quarterfinal, defeating the Irish province 53-14.

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The Top 14 club scored seven tries as they secured a semifinal against the Sharks, the South African team defeating Edinburgh.

Both No.8 Pita-Gus Sowakula and flank Peceli Yato scored braces for the French club.

In an enthralling first half, Ulster Rugby No.8 Nick Timoney opened the scoring with a quick bit of thinking, pouncing on the ball to dot down after it had bounced out of an Ulster ruck on the ASM Clermont Auvergne try-line.

Scrumhalf John Cooney converted, but the French club soon moved up the gears and struck back with two scores and two penalties; Yato and Sowakula both clattered their way through with powerful runs, flyhalf Anthony Belleau converting both and kicking two further penalties to give ASM Clermont Auvergne decisive control.

But Ulster were not done with the first half yet, making a brave decision to kick to touch after the hosts conceded a penalty with the clock in the red.

That decision was vindicated when Timoney fought his way over the line, Cooney kicking the conversion to set up an exciting second-half, with Ulster just one converted score behind.

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But Ulster’s hopes were soon squashed. Belleau may have opened the second period with a missed penalty, but a trio of brilliant offloads from full-back Alex Newsome, scrumhalf Baptiste Jauneau and wing Alivereti Raka set Newsome free down the wing, who dotted down for a third converted score in the 43rd minute.

The killer blow came nearly 20 minutes later, Sowakula grabbing his second converted try. This time it came from a 5m line-out, the French pack brushing Ulster Rugby’s defence aside with a driving maul.

Ulster’s heads were now well and truly down; replacement Rob Simmons went over for a fifth converted try before Yato, who was named player of the match, grabbed his second converted score.

Joris Jurand finished up the scoring to bring ASM Clermont Auvergne’s points tally above 50, the crowd at the Stade Marcel-Michelin beginning to believe a record fifth EPCR Challenge Cup title might well be on its way.

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The scorers:

For Clermont:
Tries: Yato 2, Sowakula 2, Newsome, Simmons, Jurand
Cons: Belleau 4, Delguy, Bezy
Pens: Belleau 2

For Ulster:
Tries: Timoney 2
Cons: Cooney 2

Teams:

Clermont: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Leon Darricarrere, 12 Julien Heriteau, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Baptiste Jauneau (captain), 8 Pita-Gus Sowakula, 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Killian Tixeront, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Thibault Lanen, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Yohan Beheregaray, 1 Giorgi Beria.
Replacements: 16 Etienne Fourcade, 17 Daniel Bibi Biziwu, 18 Giorgi Dzmanashvili, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Alexandre Fischer, 21 Sebastien Bezy, 22 Theo Giral, 23 Joris Jurand.

Ulster: 15 Stewart Moore, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Mike Lowry, 10 Nathan Doak, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 David McCann, 6 Harry Sheridan, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Cormac Izuchukwu, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Jake Flannery, 22 Ethan Mcilroy, 23 Marcus Rea.

Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant referees: Joe James (England), Hamish Smales (England)
TMO: Dean Richards (England)

@ChallengeCup_

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