Clermont secure home quarter-final

Date published: January 25 2015

Clermont outmuscled Saracens at the Stade Marcel Michelin to secure a home draw in the knockout stages, winning 18-6.

The small chance of Saracens losing by 35 points to miss out on qualification always seemed rare and so it ultimately proved to be, meaning four-time champions Toulouse missed out after their defeat by Montpellier.

Saracens were hardly daunted by their visit to the Stade Marcel Michelin, throwing their forwards into the contact and rivalling Clermont in the tackle, but the Top 14 side looked and felt like giants as the match progressed.

Ferocious probably sums the exchanges up best, with Saracens losing Owen Farrell early on to an untimely injury which saw the introduction of Charlie Hodgson.

Camille Lopez left the visitors trailing when he struck the opening penalty in the seventh minute.

Saracens might have threatened their hosts on the scoreboard if they could have capitalised on penalty chances, which tend to come at a premium in this part of France and in this competition.

Clermont made them pay through a well worked try for Nick Abendanon, the former Bath full-back who has settled into life with his new club as smoothly as possible.

Abendanon jinked his way through the defence after sniping round the breakdown and dived under the posts. Lopez converted to give the hosts a ten-point lead.

Charlie Hodgson’s introduction for Farrell arguably wasn’t a bad thing, with the experienced fly-half slotting Saracens first points to leave them trailing by seven by the interval.

Their task was made easier just after the restart when lock S