Tigers see off Clermont to book quarterfinal with Leinster
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Leicester Tigers powered their way to a comprehensive victory over Clermont Auvergne on Saturday to set up a home Champions Cup quarterfinal against Leinster.
Their 27-17 victory in the second leg at Welford Road completed a 56-27 aggregate win for the Premiership leaders, who underlined their Champions Cup potential.
It would have taken an impressive comeback for Clermont to have progressed after their 10-29 home defeat in the first leg of the Round of 16 tie, and Leicester’s defence proved too strong, as they also showed good attacking intent for their four tries.
Clermont made a promising start as they spent the first five minutes camped on the Leicester line, but the hosts would go down the other end to score on their first meaningful attack as No.8 Hanro Liebenberg battered his way through from close range.
Leicester’s rearguard was robust amid periods of extensive Clermont pressure, the visitors taking just three points from a lengthy period in their 22m, Camille Lopez on target from the tee on 16 minutes.
Clermont had a try ruled out by the TMO on 26 minutes as scrumhalf Baptiste Jauneau grounded on the dead ball line after a Leicester kick was charged down.
Tigers would then go close to scores through lock Harry Wells and wing Chris Ashton, both players knocking on before grounding.
Four points separated the sides at the break, though Leicester were well in control thanks to their first leg victory, and they made it 10-3 with a penalty from flyhalf George Ford early in the second half.
Tigers tightened their grip on the contest on 51 minutes as replacement Matt Scott stepped inside to finish off a slick passing move.
Clermont kept battling and produced some of their best rugby of the afternoon to send wing Alivereti Raka over out wide, Morgan Parra converting.
Any hopes of a second leg win were ended, however, when Clermont replacement hooker Etienne Fourcade was yellow-carded after only being on field a few minutes.,
Leicester bagged their third with a penalty try on 62 minutes – flank Tommy Reffell thought he had scored from close range, and although he had not grounded the ball, Clermont replacement prop Daniel Bibi Biziwu was yellow-carded for illegally trying to stop the move.
It was 14 versus 13 soon afterwards after Leicester flank Ollie Chessum was red-carded for leading with his shoulder on Clermont replacement Samuel Ezeala.
However, Tigers scored again with a superb sweeping length-of-the-field move, wing and Star of the Match Harry Potter weaved his way through a static defence and full-back Freddie Steward finished in the corner.
Clermont added a consolation try from No.8 Fritz Lee on 69 minutes and Parra converted, but Tigers went through in dominant style.
Tries: Liebenberg, Scott, Penalty Try, Steward
Tries: Raka, Lee
Cons: Parra 2
Red card: Ollie Chessum (Leicester, 63)
Yellow cards: Etienne Fourcade (Clermont, 60); Daniel Bibi Biziwu (Clermont, 61)
Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Harry Potter, 10 George Ford, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Ollie Chessum, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Nic Dolly, 1 Ellis Genge (captain).
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Calum Green, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Matt Scott.
Clermont: 15 Cheikh Tiberghien, 14 Marvin O’Connor, 13 George Moala, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Jauneau, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Lucas Dessaigne, 6 Clement Lanen, 5 Miles Amatosero, 4 Thibaud Lanen, 3 Christian Ojovan, 2 Yohan Beheregaray (captain), 1 Giorgi Beria.
Replacements: 16 Etienne Fourcade, 17 Daniel Bibi Biziwu, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Judicaël Cancoriet, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 John Joseph Hanrahan, 23 Samuel Ezeala.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Martin (Ireland), Oisin Quinn (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)