Damian Penaud starred as Clermont saw off rivals Lyon 33-13 to book a date with Toulouse in next weekend’s Top 14 final.
Frenchman Penaud, who was instrumental in his country’s 2019 Guinness Six Nations win over Italy in March, scored a brilliant first-phase move while teammates Alivereti Raka and George Moala also crossed as Clermont came from behind to beat Lyon, who had Liam Gill and Dean Fourie cross over for them.
“We have to correct quite a few things and control a few things better than we did because we’re going to face a top-of-the table side [Toulouse, in the final],” said Clermont head coach Franck Azema.
“We’ve already turned our attention to recovering from the game, having one day less than Toulouse, and how we can maximise our week to stay fresh for next Saturday.”
They will face a Toulouse side at the Stade de France who, on Saturday, saw off La Rochelle 20-6 with three unanswered tries from Sofiane Guitoune, Sebastien Bezy and Cheslin Kobe.
As the dust settles on the semi-finals, we look at which Guinness Six Nations talent impressed most as the two finalists were decided.
French centre Penaud is a young player who has impressed many over the last few years, not least with his two tries against England and Italy in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations, and he continued to show just what he’s made of against Lyon.
The in-form back scored a sensational try in the first-half to break Lyon’s resistance before setting up Raka’s score to consolidate his side’s dominance in a wonderful display of skill.
Penaud has been tipped by many as one of the biggest breakout stars in world rugby of the last year and, on showings like this, it is easy to see why, with the Frenchman’s pace and power a potent mix.
— TOP 14 Rugby (@top14rugby) June 9, 2019
Scotland captain and veteran scrum-half Laidlaw is a man who needs no introduction and he slotted 16 points in Clermont’s victory as he produced a flawless showing with the boot.
Laidlaw is hugely experienced and brings unrivalled steel, as seen during this year’s Guinness Six Nations as Scotland finished fifth, and this could be pivotal as Clermont bid to win their second Top 14 title in three years.
Full-back Guitoune hasn’t played for France since 2015 but his try in Toulouse’s victory over La Rochelle shows why it looks like he may be returning to the fold sooner rather than later.
At the centre of a flowing team move, Guitoune crossed over smartly while his passing and tempo throughout the game was a delight to behold.
In a team full of stars, Guitoune does not look out of place and he could well lead his side to glory come next weekend.