Racing MÃ©tro got their European campaign off to a winning start with a 13-9 victory over French rivals Clermont in Paris on Sunday.
Racing MÃ©tro got their Heineken Cup campaign off to a winning start with a 13-9 victory over French rivals Clermont at Stade Yves-du-Manoir on Sunday.
Clermont dominated for large periods of the game but were never able to breach the Francilien defence, leaving Racing wing Marc Andreu's length-of-the field try early in the second half as the only five-pointer of the game.
Indeed, last season's losing finalists will head home with a losing bonus-point but harbouring plenty of regrets having failed to put the lion's share of territory and possession to good use.
Morgan Parra's three penalties to Jonathan Sexton's one saw Clermont go into the interval with a 9-3 advantage. But, when Andreu went over soon after the restart, Racing took the lead for the first time before a Sexton penalty secured a narrow win.
The home side were on the back foot from the very start. After 10 minutes of pressure the Parisians were penalised at the scrum and Parra kicked a penalty for a 3-0 lead.
Although Racing then had a brief foray into the visitors' 22, it was Vern Cotter's men who continued to dominate possession and territory. And when another opportunity presented itself, Parra added a second from the tee before Sexton responded for Laurent Travers' team. But Parra restored les Jaunards six-point advantage as they went into the break 9-3 ahead.
The second period started in the same vein as the away side dictated proceedings, with Sitiveni Sivivatu to the fore, but it was Racing that were next to score.
Napolioni Nalaga had broken into the hosts' 22 but the wing was turned over and Andreu scampered down the right touchline for a remarkable try. Sexton converted as Metro took the lead for the first time and then kicked another penalty for a 13-9 advantage over the visitors.
Both teams were reduced to 14 men when Nalaga and Davit Khinchagishvili were sin-binned for separate foul play offences, but neither outfit were able to add to the score during that period.
And despite a late barrage from Clermont after Francois van der Merwe's yellow, Racing held on.
For Racing MÃ©tro:
Pens: Sexton 2
Yellow cards: Khinchagishvili, Van der Merwe
Pens: Parra 3
Yellow card: Nalaga
Racing MÃ©tro:15 Benjamin Lapeyre, 14 Marc Andreu, 13 Fabrice Estebanez, 12 Juan Martin Hernandez, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Jonny Sexton, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Antoine Battut, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (capt), 1 Davit Khinchagishvili
Replacements:16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Julien Brugnaut, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Bernard Le Roux, 21 Laurent Magnaval, 22 Henry Chavancy, 23 Benjamin Dambielle.
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 AurÃ©lien Rougerie (c), 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Loic Jacquet, 20 Gerhard Vosloo, 21 Thierry Lacrampe, 22 Benson Stanley, 23 Jean-Marcel Buttin.
Venue: Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Derek Bevan (Wales)