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

By Jack Davies
Alivereti Raka celebrates.

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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.


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.

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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