Owen Farrell is tackled by Wesley Fofana Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport

As it happened: Saracens vs. Clermont Auvergne, Heineken Cup

The French side were winners of this ding dong at Vicarage Road and will face Leinster in the semi-final stage

We went minute by minute for the final Heineken Cup quarter-final between Saracens and Clermont Auvergne at Vicarage Road.

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Saracens 3-22 Clermont Auvergne

Just about time to catch our collective breaths after that humdinger at Thomond Park but another 1/4 final looms.

Line-ups to follow shortly. Feel free to make comments and make your predictions.

Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell looked a cut above in the Six Nations and have been excellent in the centre for Saracens.

SARACENS: Alex Goode, David Strettle, Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Chris Wyles, Charlie Hodgson, Richard Wigglesworth, Ernst Joubert, Will Fraser, Justin Melck, Mouritz Botha, Steve Borthwick (c), Matt Stevens, Schalk Brits, Rhys Gill.

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Carlos Nieto, George Kruis, Jackson Wray, Neil de Kock, Adam Powell, James Short.

The centre combination of Rougerie and Fofana are complemented at the back by Byrne, Malzieu and Sivivatu. What a backline.

CLERMONT:Lee Byrne, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Aurelien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu, David Skrela, Morgan Parra, Elvis Vermeulen, Alexandre Lapandry, Julien Bonnaire, Nathan Hines, Jamie Cudmore, Davit Zirakashvili, Benjamin Kayser, Lionel Faure.

Replacements: Ti’i Paulo, Vincent Debaty, Daniel Kotze, Julien Pierre, Julien Bardy, Ludovic Radoslavjevic , Brock James, Jean-Marcel Buttin

Kick-off and Lee Byrne takes a big up and under. Saracens pressing hard but Goode knocks on to give Clermont an early breather. Skrela’s day is done already and Brock James is on after 3 minutes

SARACENS 0-3 CLERMONT: Great hands from Wesley Fofana as he charges through off the back of a James feed. The South African was woeful from the kicking tee against Leinster two seasons ago but he nails a 40-metre penalty.

Huge Clermont pressure as Bonnaire’s kick puts the home side on the back foot.

Strettle does fantastically under immense pressure after James hoists a high ball. Scrum on the Sarries’ five-metre line.

Fisticuffs as Morgan Parra is cleaned out with a Hodgson shoulder to the face. The scrum-half is dazed. Hodgson, incredibly, escapes a yellow card but Clermont get the penalty.

SARACENS 0-6 CLERMONT: Brock has a penalty on the 22-metre line and coolly chips over.

SARACENS 0-9 CLERMONT: The French side drive the scrum back on the halfway line and concede yet another penalty. James converts.

SARACENS 3-9 CLERMONT: Clermont infringe at the breakdown and Farrell is left with a testing penalty on the right touchline, about 35 metres out. He eyes up the posts, like Robert de Niro from Taxi Driver according to the commentator, and slots over.

The scrum is proving to be a nightmare for the home side as the front-row caves in. James misses left though.

Nathan Hines and Jamie Cudmore are turning the screw and big Zirakashvili is battering his way upfield. Desperate defence from Saracens.

Borthwick does well at the breakdown and Farrell has another penalty attempt to try settle the English side. He misses left too.

James misses a 56-metre penalty attempt as the game settles down. Tough kick so we won’t condemn him yet.

James turns down a penalty beyond the halfway line and kicks to touch. Borthwick stole the last line-out so Kayser goes short. Rougerie has a dart after taking a Parra pass on the run.

Clermont go through the phases and Sivivatu almost connects with Rougerie for what would have been a great try-scoring chance. Owen Farrell down for treatment but he will struggle on.


Saracens 3-9 Clermont Auvergne

Clermont’s Elvis Vermeulen is tackled by Saracens’ Moutitz Botha. ©INPHO/Andrew Fosker

Just about ready for the second-half to kick-off. ERC has granted teams 15 minute breaks for the knock-out stages. Saracens will be happier at how they turned the scrums back around before the break.

Remember this guy?

Todd must be back in the U.S of A after rugby season finished up in Japan. He had an epic game for the Eagles against Ireland in the World Cup. His buddies, Chris Wyles and Jamie Cudmore, on opposite sides of the part.

TRY Lee Byrne!

SARACENS 3-16 CLERMONT: Great drive and offload by Hines to Rougerie. He bu5rsts clear and passes to Parra, who in turn sends Lee Byrne over in the corner for a try.

James converts.

SARACENS 3-19 CLERMONT: Parra feeds Brock James about two metres inside the Saracens’ half and unleashes a monster drop goal. Looking good for the French side.

SARACENS 3-22 CLERMONT: Poor Saracens are getting strangled out of this contest. More pressure leads to another penalty and James makes no mistake.

Clermont, despite the stellar backline, are content to side back on their lead. Matt Stevens makes a good steal to spark a brief flurry in the home team but the French team are firm. Bonnaire and Rougerie excellent in defence.

15 minutes left on the clock and Saracens looking unlikely to get the 20 points the need to win. Will Fraser snaffles a poor Clermont line-out but the ball is eventually lost forward as Sarries hit a white defensive wall.

Saracens looking for a consolation score but strong Clermont defence and deliberate concession of penalties are slowing them down. Forwards monopolising the ball.

That’s yer lot. Clermont have been fantastic. Winning a scrum at the death to drive home their dominance. Brock James named man of the match.