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by Rugby4Cast / 10th May 2019

European Challenge Cup Final Preview: La Rochelle vs Clermont

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This season’s European second-tier tournament final sees the all-French clash between two of the Top 14’s play-off contenders go head-to-head at St. James Park.
Both of these sides have endured pretty successful seasons, in which could end with a European and domestic double, with both looking like finishing in the top 4 in the French top-flight.

Clermont

Clermont have been impeccable in this competition all the way through and have shown that last seasons failure to qualify for the Champions Cup was just a blip. They now sit second in the Top 14 and have lost just five games in all competitions all season, all of which have come in the league, and they won all six pool games with a bonus-point.

They reached the final by beating Northampton Saints 61-38 and then Harlequins in the semi-finals, 32-27. The semi-final was the first time they failed to score 4 tries in a game in the campaign and they have averaged a staggering 49.6 points a game so far in the Challenge Cup.

La Rochelle

As for La Rochelle, their route to the final has been a little more challenging. They topped their pool by winning five of their six group games before beating Bristol Bears in the quarter-final and coming through a tense finish against Sale Sharks in the semi to reach this final.

Prediction

The Algorithm gives Clermont a 72.8% chance of winning the game and predicts a 12-point margin of victory to the Yellow and Blues. The Algorithm’s season success rate is 81.8% and has produced a score-line for this final of 21-33 in Clermont’s favour.

Clermont are massive favourites for this game with the bookies at 4/11 (at the time of writing) which backs up the Algorithm. The bets I like the look of here is for over 5.5 match tries. Clermont have averaged almost 50 points a game and bang on seven tries a game, so at 6/5 for over 5.5 match tries, that looks a solid bet.
I would also look to add Clermont to win to over 5.5 match tries, or something similar to that, if I was wanting to boost those odds further. Clermont should have too much going forward for La Rochelle to cope with and I would expect them to end their ‘finals-curse’ in Newcastle this weekend in an entertaining affair.