Rugby Union

Heineken Cup preview: Clermont Auvergne v Leicester Tigers

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Leicester Tigers face a daunting task of ending Clermont Auvergne's unbeaten home record if they are to progress past the quarter-final stage of the Heineken Cup.

The Tigers haven't won the competition since 2002 and the current Premiership champions must break Clermont's four-year home record to reach the semi-finals.

However, they will take heart from the news that New Zealand winger Sitiveni Sivivatu misses out for last year's runner-ups due to injury. 

The hosts will also be without Newport Gwent Dragons-bound Lee Byrne. The Irish full-back loses his place to Jean-Marcellin Buttin.

One worrying sign for Leicester is that the competition's second highest try-scorer, Napolioni Nalaga, will be looking to increase upon his five efforts and catch Saracen's Chris Ashton.

Meanwhile for the visitors; Mathew Tait and Blaine Scully return to the starting team for the last-eight tie in France.

Richard Cockerill's side are full of talented individuals and they will be looking for big performances from the likes of Ben Youngs, Logovi'i Mulipola and Owen Williams, who is keeping Toby Flood out of the side. However lock Geoff Parling is still unavailable due to injury.

Leicester are currently third as they look to defend their Premiership title and will know that they must raise their game if they are to win at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin on Saturday afternoon.

Cockerill knows it will be tough for his side: "It is probably the toughest place we could go in the quarter-final, but that is our fault because we didn't beat Ulster to top the pool.

"Lots of good sides have been there and got nothing, and they will raise their game because it is the Heineken Cup quarter-final at home against the English champions.

"Clermont have a very good squad and they are very consistent. The noise and atmosphere for an 18,000-capacity stadium is enormous.

"But if you want to win big tournaments these are the games and these are the places you have to go and win.

"We're going to have to be as good as we can possibly be, and we're going with a mindset that it is a great opportunity and an enormous challenge in the quarter-final of Europe.

"We've played some good rugby in the last few weeks. We have to go and play our game and have a crack at them."


Clermont Auvergne: J-M Buttin; N Nakaitaci, A Rougerie (c), W Fofana, N Nalaga; B James, M Parra; T Domingo, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili, J Cudmore, N Hines, J Bonnaire, D Chouly, F Lee

Replacements: T Paulo, V Debaty, C Ric, J Pierre, A Lapandry, T Lacrampe, M Delany, B Stanley

Leicester Tigers: M Tait; B Scully, M Tuilagi, A Allen, V Goneva; O Williams, B Youngs; M Ayerza, T Youngs, L Mulipola, L Deacon, E Slater (c), J Gibson, J Salvi, J Crane

Replacements: R Hawkins, B Stankovich, F Balmain, G Kitchener, T Waldrom, D Mele, T Flood, S Hamilton

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Leicester Tigers
Clermont Auvergne
Rugby Union
Heineken Cup

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