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Clermont crush poor Perpignan as La Rochelle leapfrog Toulouse

By Rob Lancaster
Wesley Fofana in action for Clermont Auvergne.

Leaders Clermont Auvergne eased to a bonus-point win over bottom club Perpignan in round 13 of the Top 14 season.

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The clash between teams at opposite ends of the table was not quite as one-sided as perhaps expected, though Clermont still recorded a comfortable 37-16 triumph against opponents yet to register a league win this term.

Peter Betham, Wesley Fofana, Arthur Iturria and Peceli Yato all touched down for the visitors, scrum-half Greig Laidlaw adding all four conversions as well as three penalties.

La Rochelle are now up to second in the standings, moving above Toulouse – who host Toulon on Sunday – thanks to a 53-27 thrashing of Castres.

Pierre Aguillon and Marc Andreu both crossed twice in a resounding victory for the hosts, with fly-half Ihaia West landing five conversions and a pair of penalties to finish with a personal haul of 16 points.

Alexis Palisson scored two of his side’s seven tries as Lyon ripped Agen apart, running out convincing 52-20 winners at Matmut Stadium.

Jonathan Wisniewski set up Palisson’s first early in the second half having already set up hooker Mickael Ivaldi for a try before the break. The fly-half also booted 13 points before he was taken off just after the hour mark with the bonus point long secured.

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Having played a starring role in the 19-6 win over Agen last time out, Argentine fly-half Nicolas Sanchez was once again pivotal as Stade Francais fought back to record a hard-fought 23-20 triumph over Grenoble.

The home side trailed 17-0 after just 21 minutes but Sanchez helped lead the recovery, Stade scoring 23 unanswered points. Gaetan Germain cut the gap to three with a penalty for Grenoble but was unable to convert a late attempt at the posts that would have drawn his side level.

In other news:

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finn 9 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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