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From the ridiculous to the sublime - Clermont overcome 'absurd' episode to thump Saracens

By Jack Davies
Alivereti Raka celebrates.

Clermont Auvergne put the “amateurism” of the past two days behind them to storm to a record-breaking 46-14 European Champions Cup victory at title-holders Saracens on Monday.

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The match was originally scheduled to take place on Sunday but was moved due to snow, with the handling of the situation described as “absurd” by the French club in a strongly worded statement.

Monday’s rescheduled fixture between last season’s two finalists was initially billed as “behind closed doors”, before Saracens clarified that fans would be welcomed.

And a depleted crowd watched Clermont cross for six tries – including three for Alivereti Raka – in a re-run of the sides’ clash in May, which Saracens won 28-17.

The result – Sarries’ biggest defeat in Europe – sends Clermont four points clear at the top of Pool 2 ahead of the return fixture next weekend.

Raka took just 25 minutes to chalk up his hat-trick, as his trio of tries powered Clermont into a 21-0 lead to stun the home side.

A penalty try was all Saracens could muster before the break and Clermont were 41-7 in front by the 64th minute thanks to touchdowns from Flip van der Merwe and Wesley Fofana, the former clinching the bonus point.

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George Kruis’ try six minutes from time was unlikely to cause the visitors too much of a headache, and Isaia Toeava ensured Clermont had the final say in the closing minutes.

Saracens now hold a two-point lead over the third-placed Ospreys. The Premiership side head to Clermont on Sunday, while the Welsh region are at home to winless Northampton Saints.

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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