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European Challenge Cup Preview - Round 4, Pool 1

Dragons travel to France and the Stade Marcel-Michelin to face Top14 giants ASM Clermont Auvergne in Round 4 of the European Challenge Cup on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 1pm GMT).

Dragons will be looking to return to winning ways in the competition after defeat to Northampton Saints last weekend at Franklin’s Gardens – see the latest table HERE 

We take a closer look at the state of play in the European Challenge Cup and focus on the latest games in Pool 1…

Pool 1: ASM Clermont Auvergne vs Dragons 
When: Saturday, December 15
Venue: Stade Marcel-Michelin

Kick-off: 2pm local time 

Referee: Tom Foley (Eng), 
Assistant Referee 1: Craig Maxwell-Keys (Eng), 
Assistant Referee 2: Simon Harding (Eng)
Citing Commissioner: Danae Zamboulis (Eng)
 

MATCH FACTS: 

  • This will be just the second meeting between ASM Clermont Auvergne and the Dragons after they clashed in the 2007 semi-final with the French side emerging 46-29 winners.
  • Clermont are one of three clubs with a 100% record this season, along with Sale Sharks and La Rochelle.
  • Clermont have won all 26 of their home games in the Challenge Cup, scoring an average of 48 points per game.
  • Clermont have averaged 735 metres and 44 defenders beaten per game this season, more than any other side in either competiton.
  • Of players to attempt 10 or more kicks at goal this season, Clermont’s Pato Fernandez (100%) and Dragons’ Josh Lewis (91%) have the best kicking success rate this season.

TOURNAMENT RECORD:

Clermont ASM: P57 W44 D0 L13
Points For 2073 Points Against 961
Biggest win 84 (v Aberavon in 1998/99)
Heaviest defeat 19 (v Beziers 2000/01)

Dragons: P57 W32 D0 L25 
Points For 1601 Points against 1208
Biggest win 56 (v Bucharest Wolves 2014/15)
Heaviest defeat 34 (v Northampton Saints 2018/19)

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD:
21.04.07 – ASM Clermont Auvergne 49-29 Dragons

Pool 1 - Timisoara Saracens vs Northampton Saints
When: Saturday, December 15
Venue: Dan Paltinisanu Stadium
Kick-off: 12.30pm local time

Referee: Joy Neville (Ire)
Assistant Referee 1: Jonny Erskine (Ire)
Assistant Referee 2: Richard Kerr (Ire)
Citing Commissioner: Wayne Sheridan (Ire)

MATCH FACTS:

  • This will be the first time Timisoara Saracens and Northampton have met in the tournament.
  • Timisoara’s previous two games against Gallagher Premiership opposition saw them lose 3-42 and 3-75 to Harlequins in 2016/17.
  • Timisoara are looking for a first win in the Challenge Cup having lost all nine previous matches.
  • Saints have won their last seven away games in the competition their last such defeat coming against Bristol in 2005.
  • Northampton have won 95% of their lineouts so far, the best rate in the Challenge Cup this season.
  • Timisoara have averaged just 12 minutes and 2 seconds of possession per game so far, the least of any side in the tournament.

TOURNAMENT RECORD

Northampton Saints: P34 W27 D0 L7 
Points For 1139 Points Conceded 571
Biggest win 63 (v Bristol Rugby 2017/18)
Heaviest defeat -30 (v Connacht Rugby 1997/98)

Timisoara Saracens P9 W0 L9
Points for 69 Points conceded 451
Biggest win: N/A
Heaviest defeat: 72 (v Harlequins 2016/17)

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD: 
First tournament meeting

EUROPEAN ROUND-UP

  • ASM Clermont Auvergne (Pool 1), Sale Sharks (Pool 3) and La Rochelle (Pool 4) all have a maximum 15 points and all three registered away wins last weekend.
  • Benetton Rugby are top of Pool 5 following their impressive 26-21 victory over Harlequins at Stadio Comunale di Monigo. Wing Monty Ioane was the hero with the match-winning try in the 79th minute.
  • Following his double for Sale Sharks in the bonus point win at Bordeaux-Bègles, Chris Ashton became the first player in history to score 50 or more tries in European club competitions. The prolific Ashton has crossed 39 times in the European Cup (Saracens 29, Northampton Saints 8, RC Toulon 2) and 12 times in the Challenge Cup (Northampton Saints 7, Sale Sharks 5).
  • La Rochelle fly half, Maxime Lafage, who was influential during his side’s 35-22 success at Bristol, is the top points scorer with 47 after three rounds, while Chris Ashton tops the try scoring charts with 5 from two matches.
  • Lafage’s La Rochelle clubmate, Romaric Camou, has made the most metres with 359.
  • The Dragons openside, Nic Cudd, made 27 tackles in his side’s defeat at Franklin’s Gardens.
  • Enisei-STM’s back row, Mikheil Gachechiladze, leads the way in the tackles category with 60.
  • Former All Black, Colin Slade, was the key performer with two tries and two conversions in Pau’s home win over Worcester Warriors.
  • Zebre Rugby Club are very much in contention in Pool 4 after their bonus point win against Enisei-STM in Sochi. Carlo Canna contributed 16 points with a try, four conversions and a penalty.
  • Ireland centre, Bundee Aki, was on the mark for Connacht Rugby who had to battle their way to a 22-10 win over Perpignan in difficult conditions at The Sportsground.
  • Clermont’s Alivereti Raka made a round high 128 metres in the away win at Timisoara Saracens.
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