Harlequins suffered a heavy defeat in their Heineken Champions Cup opener at Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, losing 53-21.

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The excellent Alivereti Raka and Peceli Yato scored two tries apiece in a dominant display from the three-time finalists, who were making their return to the competition after failing to qualify for last season’s tournament.

Clermont opened up a 22-0 lead inside 25 minutes and kept Quins firmly at arm’s length throughout.

Raka raced clear for Clermont’s opening try after pouncing on a loose pass in the 11th minute, with Morgan Parra – who had earlier opened the scoring from the tee – adding the extras in front of the posts.

Yato then powered over for the first of his double, dragging desperate challenger Marcus Smith behind him, and brushed off Glen Young to break Quins’ defensive line and charge towards the line for his second.

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Tom Lawday reduced the deficit when he touched down 11 minutes from half-time, but Clermont reasserted their authority on the match when Isaia Toeava collected a George Moala offload to cross the whitewash.

A driving maul produced a Quins try through Elia Elia in the 51st minute, before Clermont spread the ball out to the left wing with the help of a well-judged Camille Lopez kick for Raka to cross for his second of the match.

Lopez was instrumental once again in his side’s sixth try, sending through a chip that was chased down by Moala.

Quins’ final score of the match deserved better than to be on the losing side, with Gabriel Ibitoye embarking on a scintillating run before sending James Lang over.

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But Clermont had the final say in a match they controlled from start to finish, Mike Tadjer applying the finish after a driving maul.

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