Table-toppers Clermont close on home semi-final


Clermont Auvergne took a huge step towards securing a home semi-final in the Top 14 play-offs by running out comfortable 36-10 victors over Stade Francais.

Stade beat Clermont in last season's Top 14 final, but the teams have endured vastly differing fortunes this time around with Clermont riding high atop the table and Stade struggling in the lower reaches.

And it was a straightforward outing for Clermont at the Stade Marcel Michelin as the hosts ran in three tries and Morgan Parra contributed 23 points.

Clermont were already leading 12-3 by the time they were awarded a penalty try on the stroke of half-time and hooker John Ulugia barged over for their second five-pointer shortly after the restart.

Djibril Camara reduced the arrears with Stade's only try, but the influential Parra touched down on the left in the 63rd minute and Clermont safely negotiated the closing stages.

Victory means Clermont are six points clear of second-placed Montpellier and Toulon with two regular-season matches remaining, with a spot in the top two guaranteeing a home tie in the play-off semi-finals.