Clermont out after penalty howler, Chiefs progress


Clermont Auvergne were dramatically eliminated from the European Champions Cup on Sunday after turning down a late chance to kick for goal against Bordeaux-Begles, when three points would have seen them progress at the expense of Exeter Chiefs.

A thrilling final day of action in Pool Two looked likely to result in all four teams - Clermont, Bordeaux, Exeter and the Ospreys - finishing with 16 points to their name.

However, Clermont's hopes of claiming a second bonus point against Bordeaux at Stade Marcel-Michelin were dented by Peter Saili's 73rd-minute touchdown, which put the visitors 37-28 up in a match featuring eight tries.

With no addition to the score, Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra then opted to take a quick tap from directly in front of the posts in the final minute, despite the fact a successful kick would have been enough to put last year's beaten finalists through to the quarter-finals.

Bordeaux held firm to ensure Exeter, who beat the Ospreys 33-17, qualified on points difference. Sunday's results also ensured Northampton Saints progressed as one of the best runners-up, having concluded their Pool Three campaign on Saturday with a 22-10 win at Parc y Scarlets.

The Saints will visit top seeds Saracens in the last eight, with Exeter travelling to Wasps, Leicester Tigers at home to Stade Francais - who also secured a quarter-final slot on Sunday - and Racing 92 hosting reigning champions Toulon.

Thomas Waldrom and James Short each ran in two tries as Exeter denied Ospreys a losing bonus point at Sandy Park.

The result of that match appeared set to prove immaterial as Clermont, who had led 14-0 after five minutes, moved eight points clear of Bordeaux inside the final quarter.

However, Bordeaux mounted a stunning late fightback, before Parra made the costly decision to run the ball with less than 35 seconds remaining.

Stade booked their place in the last eight with a 36-21 home victory over Leicester, who had already qualified as winners of Pool Four.

Manu Tuilagi opened the scoring for the Tigers, his first try since returning from a lengthy absence due to a groin injury, but Stade put up the next 26 points to take charge of proceedings.

In Pool Four's other closing fixture, Munster picked up a bonus point in a 28-5 win at Benetton Treviso, who end the campaign pointless.