Harlequins 19 Clermont 26
Heineken Champions Cup Round Six Saturday 18th January 2020
Peter Moore at the Stoop
Clermont made it five wins out of six pool matches to guarantee a home quarter final after a narrow 26-19 victory against Harlequins at the Stoop on Saturday.
Harlequins matched the French side toe to toe with a spirited performance to be proud of against the French Top 14 side.
Straight from the kick off it was the French Top 14 side who took the lead when a cross field kick was gathered by Peter Betham who dotted down in the corner. Captain Morgan Parra successfully added the extras to give the visitors first blood.
From the resulting restart Quins responded in the best manner possible by levelling following an offload from Alex Dombrandt- who earlier this week had extended his contract with the club- into the hands of Luke Northmore who ran in from the 22. Brett Herron successfully converted to tie the game at 7-7 after only five minutes played.
Parra kicked Clermont back into the lead before the French Side extended their advantage after a period of pressure in the Quins 22 resulted in Apisai Naqelevu going over in the corner.
For the second time in the match Quins response was instant and from a lineout driving maul it was Dombrandt at the bottom of it who crashed over. Herron’s conversion came off the post, with the gap reduced to five points at the break with the visitors taking a 17-12 lead at half time.
After another six points from the boot of Parra, including a penalty kick from 40 meters out, Paul Gustard decided to bring on three game changers in the shape of Semi Kunatani, Gabs Ibitoye and Kyle Sinckler. Further penalty problems for Harlequins resulted in Parra slotting over another long-range effort to give the visitors a firm grip of the game with just over twenty minutes remaining.
Not for the first time in the afternoon Quins hit back with a try. A chip and chase that fell nicely with the bounce from Herron reduced the gap. The fly half converted his effort to set up a tense finish.
With time running out Harlequins almost snatched a try right at the death, but Ross Chisholm was denied by three Clermont defenders and stripped of the ball ten meters from the line. The French side had a scrum with Quins penalised, with the visitors gaining the ball they ran down the clock to record a victory and finish top of the pool with a quarter final home tie against Racing 92 in April.