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Clermont shift focus to final goal

Sun, 12 Jan 2014 10:52
Sitivenisivivatuharlequins Naipolioninalagaharlequinstry Vern-cotter-h_s
A home quarterfinal definitely helps
Quote-end

Clermont may have celebrated skipper Aurelien Rougerie's 50th European Cup outing by winning Pool Four with their 16-13 triumph at Harlequins on Saturday, but they don't want to stop there.

The team that ended up as runners-up in last season's tournament, winning every game up to the final against Toulon in Dublin, have now set themselves the task of winning their final pool game to try to earn a home game in the quarterfinals.

Clermont receive fellow Top 14 side Racing Metro at Stade Marcel Michelin in Round Six. Racing beat them at home in Round One, but have not won a game since then.

"A home quarterfinal definitely helps and that will be our aim and ambition next week. We have qualified now and that's positive," said Clermont coach Vern Cotter.

"Next week we have a big game against our rivals Racing Metro, which will be a stern test for us at home, and hopefully we can get a few more points and be in a better position in the play-offs."

Harlequins pushed Clermont all the way at the Twickenham Stoop and led early on thanks to a great piece of skill from England scrumhalf Danny Care that paved the way for a Matt Hopper try.

But the current leaders of the Top 14 hauled themselves back into the contest with Napolioni Nalaga's 23rd European Cup try in 28 games and went on to record their seventh successive away win in pool matches.

"We weren't particularly efficient in the first half, we had a couple of scoring opportunities and missed them and I was worried that we wouldn't get many in the game and we squandered those two," added Cotter.

"But we managed to come back and wear them down and then we did get opportunities in the second half and we managed to score from them. It was a tight game, I would have liked to have won the last scrum and not gone through the last 20 seconds nervously.

"The boys readdressed things at half-time and we wanted to play the game down in their half which we did. Then we applied more pressure and get some points.

"We had to try and relax, be more composed and stick to a plan we wanted to put in place. Even then I think we lost a lot of ball in the second half but managed to score the last try, which gave us a bit of breathing space and enabled us to get the win."

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