Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Davies wants repeat of Saints show

Published 15/04/2015

Jonathan Davies believes Clermont are ready for Saturday's European Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens
Jonathan Davies believes Clermont are ready for Saturday's European Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens

Clermont centre Jonathan Davies has warned their European Champions Cup demolition of Northampton was not a one-off and insists Saracens can expect similar treatment in Saturday's crunch semi-final.

The two sides square up for the fourth time in less than 12 months this weekend after Saracens knocked Clermont out at the same stage last year before the teams shared a win apiece in this season's pool stages.

Clermont dismantled Northampton, who are currently six points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership, with a resounding 37-5 victory in the quarter-finals and could end English clubs' involvement in the competition with a similar display against Sarries.

"The plan is to replicate it (the Northampton performance)," Davies said.

"People have been talking about it as the complete performance, especially in the first half.

"But I noticed during the game that as a squad we have so much quality we should expect to deliver that sort of intensity, accuracy and execution on the ball.

"It was no surprise to me that we delivered a performance like that.

"It's about making sure we replicate it in the week in training, we deliver the intensity and when we get the opportunities, because there aren't many out there, we're clinical."

Both teams have assumed the tag of Europe's nearly-men in recent seasons, having failed to lift the trophy despite a combined seven semi-final appearances in the last four tournaments.

With a star-studded squad, Clermont's empty cabinet weighs particularly heavy and Davies has felt the burden of expectation in his first campaign at the club.

"It's my first year with Clermont and you realise the importance of winning," Davies said.

"We're competing in both competitions this year. It's a very proud area, Clermont, and there are expectations with the quality of the team we have.

"It's nice having that burden to deliver. In the past we haven't done that but this year there's an edge about us and a clarity as well.

"The whole squad understand we want to achieve and we've executed that very well, especially in Europe."

Clermont and Saracens have a rich recent history together in the competition.

In 2012, Clermont outclassed Sarries in a 22-3 quarter-final triumph at Vicarage Road but Mark McCall's men exacted revenge last year with a shock 46-6 win in the last four.

Davies insists both sides have changed and "moved on" since that result - Franck Azema has since replaced Vern Cotter as Clermont head coach - but the Wales centre admits lessons have been learned.

"It's good to draw on past experiences to help you in the now," Davies said.

"Saracens pride themselves on putting pressure on the opposition, making you make mistakes and capitalising on them.

"Our big focus this week is to negate the errors in our game, play in the right areas, build a lead and force Sarries to play a bit.

"In the last group game at home we did that well.

"For us it's about coming out and starting well and putting pressure on them where they want to put pressure on us."

Davies became the latest in a long line of Welsh players to cross the channel last summer when he joined the Top 14 from Scarlets.

The 27-year-old believes clashes like the one this weekend fully justify his decision.

"In the past I've been watching these games," Davies said.

"I want to be part of big games. I've been fortunate in my international career to be part of big games and making the move to Clermont was to be playing in these big games at the end of the season.

"It's where I want to be, I'm enjoying it and I'm very excited to be part of a very strong team."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph