Saracens edged into the final eight of the European Champions Cup, despite losing their final Pool 1 game away to the winners of the group Clermont Auvergne.
Clermont fly-half Camille Lopez kicked his team into an early lead and after his reverse number Owen Farrell went off injured, Nick Abendanon scored the first try for the Vulcans, with Lopez adding the extras from the conversion.
Sarries hit back with two Charlie Hodgson penalties, the first one in the 22nd minute, to cut the score to 10-3 soon before the half-time break. Hodgson's second penalty came after the break, but the hosts continued to look the more dangerous of the two teams.
The longer the game went on the more Clermont overpowered the Londoners.
The Vulcans added more points in the 53rd minute when Vincent Debaty penetrated the Sarries defence and scored their second try, but Lopez did not manage to add from the conversion.
Substitute Clermont fly-half Brock James concluded the scoring in a low key affair in the 77th minute penalty kick that sealed the 18-6 score at the Stade Marcel - Michelin. The noisy home crowd provided enthusiastic support for their home team, who join the Sarries in the quarter-finals.
The good news is that four English clubs will play in the quarter finals of the Champions Cup, which is the first time in 17 years; Saracens join Northampton, Bath and Wasps to continue with the tournament. They will all be facing away ties: the Sarries will be facing Racing Metro, in Paris, Wasps will travel to Toulon, Northampton to Clermont Auvergne and Bath to Leinster. All the clubs will have to face demanding matches, but perhaps Wasps will have the toughest opponent: Toulon are reigning champions, who won Pool 3 with five wins from their six matches.
The bad news is that Owen Farrell's injury came just over a week before the start of the RBS 6 Nations. Everyone is hoping that the injury is not serous and that Farrell could play England's Six Nations opener. Let's hope to see him in playing for England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 6th February. #Rugby