Champions Cup: Leicester Tigers ease past Clermont to set up quarter-final date with Leinster

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Leicester Tigers got the job done against Clermont as they won 27-17 on Saturday to seal a 56-27 victory on aggregate in the Champions Cup.

Tries from Hanro Liebenberg, Matt Scott and Freddie Steward saw the Premiership outfit into the last eight as they avoided any slip-ups at Welford Road.

Alivereti Raka and Fritz Lee did cross for Clermont but it was always going to be a nigh on impossible task for them to overturn last week’s home defeat.

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One blot on the result was Ollie Chessum’s red card that could rule the England forward out of the Tigers’ last-eight encounter in early May. However, the Premiership leaders would not be denied a quarter-final berth as they eased into the last eight.

After surviving an early storm as the visitors turned down kicks at goal in favour of the tries they needed, it was Tigers who scored with their first foray into the attacking 22.

Captain Ellis Genge rampaged at the heart of the defence and a rapid recycle later, Liebenberg reached over for a try which George Ford converted.

Camille Lopez’s penalty got Clermont on the scoreboard and more could have followed as Raka made a huge line break. Danger appeared to be averted with Ford’s strip, but his resulting kick was charged down and then grounded by Baptiste Jauneau, only for the TMO to rule it was grounded on the dead-ball line.

A flurry of action late in the first half saw Harry Wells spill while driving for the line while Chris Ashton’s dive at a Jack van Poortvliet grubber was knocked on.

With two Tigers players down injured, Clermont pounced as Jauneau broke on a sublime diagonal run and, with Ford closing down, the scrum-half hurled a pass inside to Giorgi Beria, who fumbled with the line at his mercy.

Wesley Fofana’s break at the start of the second period was then expertly ended by Tommy Reffell’s tap-tackle.

Ford stretched Leicester‘s lead with a penalty before mesmerising the French defence with a goosestep and dummy, allowing Reffell to put Scott in for the score that opened a colossal aggregate lead of 31 points with as many minutes to play.

Clermont finally registered the try they had threatened when Cheikh Tiberghien broke free and fed Raka for a simple finish. However, it failed to spark a late comeback as Ford’s masterful restart caused chaos.

Etienne Fourcade saw yellow before Leicester forced their way to a penalty try as Daniel Bibi Biziwu became the second Clermont front-row to be cautioned in a minute.

That numerical advantage did not last long as Chessum was dismissed for a shoulder to the head of Samuel Ezeala. It was followed by the try of the game as Harry Potter’s weaving run provided the assist for Steward.

Clermont heads did not drop as Lee’s try, converted by Morgan Parra, proved to be the final scoring act but it was Tigers who progressed to the last eight with a 56-27 aggregate win.

READ MORE: Champions Cup: Munster and La Rochelle triumph, knocking out Exeter Chiefs and Bordeaux-Begles

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