Harlequins 13 Clermont Auvergne 16 match report: Danny Care worries England as Quins capitulate

Robshaw’s men bow out of Cup and scrum-half’s injury adds to woes

Twickenham Stoop

There was more bad injury news for England as Harlequins’ doomed attempt to maintain an interest in this season’s Heineken Cup after losing their opening two matches finally bit the dust.

England already knew they would be missing eight front-line players for the start of the Six Nations’ Championship in France on 1 February when Quins’ scrum-half Danny Care hobbled off with a twisted ankle in the second half.

Care, who was one of four No 9s in the England squad of 35 players named in midweek, was wearing a protective boot last night, and his director of rugby, Conor O’Shea, said he was unlikely to be fit for the concluding Heineken pool match away to the Scarlets next Sunday, when a win might earn Quins the consolation prize of a place as one of three group runners-up who drop into the Amlin Challenge Cup. Mathematically, they are not yet out of the Heineken, but it is only a matter of time before other results finish them off.

Care’s wondrous back-handed pass to make a try for Matt Hopper had given Quins hope as they led 13-3 at the interval. But in a scoreless second half for the home team Napolioni Nalaga and Sitiveni Sivivatu added The Stoop to the long list of their killing fields.

Neither of the Clermont Auvergne wings would earn many style points for sylph-like grace – they carry themselves like ocean liners in rugby boots – but they have few peers as finishers anywhere in Europe. For Sivivatu there is the added incentive of improving on last year’s losing Heineken final before he moves to Castres in the summer.

Harlequins may reflect that to be beaten by a combined 10 points over two pool matches against the leaders of the Top 14 is not too dusty. Nick Kennedy, the former England lock who won the Heineken with Toulon last May, made his first Quins start after a knee injury and will add vital nous to their Premiership run-in, challenging for the play-offs – and then what? “I hope that we will have a tournament like this [the Heineken] that we can play in next year,” said O’Shea.

Clermont were robbed of plenty of possession after the tackle, but just enough of the key incidents went their way, including a dollop of bad luck that engulfed Quins’ England full-back Mike Brown as the Massif Central men guaranteed themselves a quarter-final place even before they host Racing Métro next week.

Brock James kicked a penalty for Clermont before a double turnover led to Quins’ try on 22 minutes. Care acted quickly with a tap-and-go and long pass to Ugo Monye that was fed on to Chris Robshaw, who put in a speculative chip hard by the left touchline. It was rewarded by Care’s right-handed flick behind his back – the ball was over the line, but Care’s standing foot was not – and Hopper did the easy bit of scoring.

Nick Evans added the conversion, followed by penalties in the 30th and 38th minutes, although Clermont looked hard done by in the second of them when Evans’s break appeared to end in the fly-half getting away with losing the ball forward.

Soon enough, though, Clermont got the rub of the green. Brown was flummoxed by a wicked bounce, and the predatory Nalaga pounced for his tournament-leading fifth Heineken try of the season five minutes into the second half.

When Ti’i Paulo dived over a ruck to concede a silly penalty in the 69th minute, Evans had a kick from 35 metres out, head on to the posts, that might have given Harlequins both the win and a crucial advantage over Clermont over their two meetings. But it faded wide, and two minutes later Sivivatu’s try brought the teams level. Alexandre Lapandry caught a line-out, Nalaga and Gerhard Vosloo battered through the midfield, and Sivivatu was on the end of slick passing between James, Wesley Fofana and Jean-Marcel Buttin.

Robshaw will be reappointed publicly as England captain next Friday, and the national team’s head coach, Stuart Lancaster, praised the flanker three days ago, saying: “Chris improved in the autumn in the areas we’d asked him to: his speed over the floor and his decision-making at the breakdown – not going into every breakdown, trying to turn the ball over and losing himself.” The Quins blindside Luke Wallace will start for the Saxons against Ireland A on Saturday week.

Viewed in isolation, Robshaw’s tactics yesterday of Quins running from deep were dubious, but that is their way, even if Clermont conspicuously played for territory after half-time. Quins conceded a penalty kicked by James on 76 minutes, and though a last-ditch flurry of activity in the Clermont 22 was exciting – Dave Ward threw not straight to Nick Easter to waste a great line-out position, before Quins nicked the resulting scrum against the head – the scoreline stayed unchanged.


Harlequins: M Brown; C Walker (O Lindsay-Hague, 47), M Hopper, T Molenaar, U Monye; N Evans, D Care (K Dickson, 50); J Marler, D Ward, W Collier, N Kennedy (C Matthews, 56), G Robson, L Wallace (T Guest, 62), C Robshaw (capt), N Easter.

Clermont Auvergne: J-M Buttin; S Sivivatu, A Rougerie (capt; B Stanley, 67), W Fofona, N Nalaga; B James, M Parra; T Domingo (V Debaty, 58), B Kayser (T Paulo, 56), D Zirakashvili, J Cudmore, N Hines, J Bardy (G Vosloo, 24), A Lapandry, F Lee.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent