Heineken Cup match preview: Clermont v Montpellier
Last Updated: 06/04/13 6:09pm
Clermont are the favourites to book their place in their Heineken Cup semi-finals when they do battle with Montpellier at Parc des Sports Michelin on Saturday.
The Top 14 club, who will make their fifth Heineken Cup quarter-finals appearance this weekend, boast an unbeaten record on home soil stretching back 58 consecutive games in all competitions.
Montpellier are in unchartered territory and they will fancy their chances of causing an upset after winning their last five matches in the illustrious competition.
The teams have split their Top 14 matches this season with Montpellier claiming a 13-8 win at home in August while Clermont won the return game in January by a 36-18 scoreline.
If Montpellier's brilliant Georgian Mamuka Gorgodze starts getting the ball in his hands and running, Fulgence Ouedraogo gets amongst the home three-quarters and Francois Trinh Duc controls the game against his inexperienced opposite number then the visitors will have a chance.
Clermont have been forced to name Ludovic Radoslavjevic at fly-half in the absence of the injured Brock James.
Radoslavjevic started at ten in last week's 66-21 demolition of Agen and the team is largely unchanged though former All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu returns on the wing.
Gorgodze has been shifted to the second row for Montpellier where he joins former Clermont lock Thibaut Privat.
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Ludovic Radoslavjevic , 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Julien Bonnaire, 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Gerhard Vosloo, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 David Skrela, 22 Regan King, 23 Jean-Marcel Buttin,
Montpellier: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Yohann Artru, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Alexandre Bias, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Mamuka Gorgodze, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Yvan Watremez.
Replacements: 16 Rassie van Vuuren, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Barry Fa'amausili, 19 Mickael Demarco, 20 Johnnie Beattie, 21 Eric Escande, 22 Paul Bosch, 23 Pierre Bérard.
What they said...
Clermont lock Nathan Hines
"Despite this being an all-French encounter, it will be a whole new ball-game for both teams. It will be nothing like playing in the Top14 championship because it is all or nothing - lose and you are gone.
"We still feel the pain of losing to Leinster in last year's semi-final and we don't want to feel so low again. Montpellier have emerged as a very powerful young team who are very aggressive up front.
"They have a lot of physicality - and even their bigger guys like Johnnie can chuck the ball around. We don't regard ourselves as favourites. I reckon it is more like a 50-50 situation."