Montpellier sent out a warning message to their French and European rivals on Friday with an impressive 43-3 victory over Clermont.
Montpellier sent out a warning message to their French and European rivals on Friday with an impressive 43-3 victory over Clermont at Stade Yves Du Manoir.
Jonathan Pelissie grabbed 31 points as Montpellier ran riot to provisionally move top of the standings.
Scrum-half Pelissie scored two of his team's four tries and kicked 21 points in the bonus-point Top 14 win as Clermont, whose last victory at Montpellier's Stade du Manoir was in 2009, were knocked off the summit.
Clermont had been briefly ahead when Morgan Parra, handed the kicking duties in the absence of Brock James, slotted over a first-minute penalty.
But it was all downhill from there for last season's European Cup runners-up as Pelissie took charge.
He kicked three penalties – the last of which was awarded for a high tackle by Clermont's New Zealand flier Sitiveni Sivivatu on Montpellier wing Yoann Audrin.
Clermont were then rocked by the injury-enforced losses of hooker Benjamin Kayser and Canadian lock Jamie Cudmore.
Montpellier took full advantage of the disruptions to score two quickfire tries, both thanks to brilliant individual work by Pelissie.
In the 25th minute, the 25-year-old picked-up from the base of the scrum, exploited the smallest of gaps before sprinting through three half-hearted tackles to score.
He converted for 16-3 and then added his second try of the night five minutes later.
Montpellier turned the ball over, allowing Pelissie to kick ahead and chase down his own punt.
The ball fell kindly for the former Grenoble player who darted over for the try with his extras making it 23-3.
Another penalty just before the break completed the Pelissie one-man show as Montpellier stretched to 26-3 at the break.
Pelissie then took his and his team's tally to 29 points shortly after the restart with another penalty.
Two minutes later, the home side grabbed a third try when French international fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc finished a move which started when Clermont's Wesley Fofana had a loose pass intercepted by Timoci Nagusa.
Pelissie added the conversion for a 36-3 lead.
Sivivatu's night then got worse when he was yellow-carded for failing to release the ball.
While he was off the field, Montpellier kept up the pressure and Trinh-Duc grabbed his second try on the 65-minute mark which he converted himself for 43-3.
The irrepressible Pelissie was still involved, however, having made the initial break which created the try.
Pelissie was then replaced by Benoit Paillauge, earning a standing ovation from the 12,000-strong crowd as he left the pitch after his 31-point haul.
Tries: PÃ©lissiÃ© 2, Trinh-Duc 2
Cons: PÃ©lissiÃ© 3, Trinh-Duc
Pens: PÃ©lissiÃ© 5
Yellow card: Ouedraogo
Yellow card: Sivivatu
Montpellier:15 Anthony Floch, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Yoan Audrin, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Jonathan Pelissie, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Alexandre Bias, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Bobins Tchale watchou, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Yvan Watremez,
Replacements: 16 Charles Geli, 17 Nicolas Mas, 18 Mickael De Marco, 19 Kelian Galletier, 20 Benoit Paillaugue, 21 Thomas Combezou, 22
Benoit Sicart, 23Naama Leleimalefaga.
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Loic Jacquet, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Vincent Debaty.
Replacements: 16 Benoit Cabello, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Alexandre Lapandry, 20 Gavin Hume, 21 Regan King, 22 Jean Marcellin Buttin, 23 Clement Ric.
Venue: Stade Yves Du Manoir, Montpellier
Referee: Salem Attalah