ASM Clermont v Exeter Chiefs Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Exeter Chiefs | Sunday 20 December | Stade Marcel-Michelin | 17:10

Clermont will be looking to avenge last weekend's loss when they host the Chiefs this Sunday. However, Exeter have proven a tough nut to crack in recent weeks, so those expecting Clermont to walk this one may be in for a bit of a surprise.

Will Exeter be able to claim the double over Clermont, or will the French giants get their revenge? Let's see if we can find out bellow.

To Win (80 Mins)
Clermont 1/6
Draw 28/1
Exeter 4/1
*Handicaps to added upon release

Are the wheels starting to fall of the Clermont bus? They were priced up as favourites for last weekend's game, and while I did feel that Exeter would be able to scrape a narrow victory at home, I didn't think it would be by a 17 point margin. The French side need to claim a win on home soil this weekend if they are to still have a chance of making it through to the next round.

When the teams went in for the half-time break, I honestly thought Clermont were going to win the game. They were four points up and while they hadn't been at their best they did seem to have enough in the tank to see them claim the win. However, a brilliant second half performance from the Exeter forwards saw Clermont fall to their first defeat in this season's Champions Cup.

The most worrying aspect of  their performance were the display's their forwards put in. Look, Exter's pack is on fire at the moment but they way Clermont let them boss the game, made the Chiefs jobs a lot easier. Skipper, Damien Chouly, is going to need to ensure his pack put up some form of resistance this weekend or Clermont may well be waving goodbye to their European hopes before the year is out.

How important will last week late bonus point try prove to be? Their five-point haul has seen the Chiefs move into first place on the log - due to them having a superior points difference to the second placed Ospreys. With Exeter still to play the groups underdogs, Bordeaux, a win in this one would put the English side well and truly in the driving seat.

Key to Exeter's recent run of victories has been the return of former Canterbury man, Thomas Waldrom. The big loosie crossed the whitewash twice last week and has bagged five tries in his last two appearances. Clermont failed to keep him quiet last weekend and suffered the consequences. They will have to ensure the big man is well marshalled this weekend, or Waldrom may add a few more five pointers to his impressive record.

While Waldrom and his fellow forwards have laid a solid platform for their backs to operate off, the 'skinnies' need to be commended for their defensive displays. It's not often, that a rugby team scores most of their tries through their pack - okay maybe the Blue Bulls but even they're trying to get their backs more involved in the game nowadays - but this is precisely where the majority of Exeter's tries have come from this season. With the forwards stealing all the glory, one would think the Exeter backs would be a touch bit sensitive. They have shown no signs of envy however, and are doing a fantastic job in keeping their opposition backs quite.

With their pack dominating most games, I expect the Chiefs to keep things tight once again this weekend and accrue the vast majority of their points through the driving maul.

Verdict: Exeter 4/1
I honestly think their forward pack has what it takes to lead them to back to back victories over Clermont. Back the away side to claim the spoils at 4/1.

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