Rugby

Clermont into Euro quarters as Saracens draw

2017-01-15 20:25
Rugby ball (File)

Paris - Clermont edged Bordeaux-Begles to qualify for the European Champions Cup quarter-finals on Sunday as defending champions Saracens left it late to snatch a thrilling draw with Scarlets.

France flyhalf Camille Lopez kicked three penalties for Clermont in an error-strewn game in which they were reduced to 13 men early on.

Irish counterpart Ian Madigan booted two of his own penalties as the visitors ran out 9-6 victors in western France.

Clermont, with 21 points in Pool 5, joined Irish provinces Munster and Leinster, from Pools 1 and 4 respectively, in the last eight.

But there was no automatic qualification for Saracens, who were chasing a 14th Champions Cup win in a row.

They had to rely on an injury-time try from England winger Chris Ashton, converted by Owen Farrell, to snatch a 22-22 draw in Llanelli.

Scarlets had dominated much of the game and looked set for a memorable victory over the champions.

But a turnover at the death handed Saracens the opportunity they needed.

Winger Nathan Earle scored the English side's first try thanks to fine offloading skills from full-back Alex Lowzowski.

Dan Jones kept the penalties ticking over for a 9-5 halftime lead for Scarlets, stretching that with his fourth early in the second half.

But Lowzowski again turned provider, his break and inside pass seeing Ashton scoot through for his first try.

Scott Williams hit straight back, lining up a long, flat pass from scrumhalf Aled Davies to cross under the posts.

Farrell and Jones traded penalties before the England flyhalf made a crucial break and found the ubiqitious Ashton on his shoulder to break Scarlets' hearts.

Saracens, on 20 points, now top Pool 3, with second-placed Toulon playing Sale later Sunday.

There's still all to play for in Pool 2, headed by Connacht (18 pts) but with Wasps (17) in the driving seat with a final group match at hapless Zebre who have lost all five games, shipping 290 points. Connacht have to travel to four-time champions Toulouse where both sides will still be in contention to make the last-eight.

Read more on:    clermont  |  rugby
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