Clermont go eight points clear

Date published: December 18 2016

Clermont responded from last week’s loss in Belfast to beat Ulster 38-19 in a bonus-point victory that moves them eight points clear in Pool 5.

After last weekend’s defeat Clermont were looking for a quick response, and they certainly got one. Isaia Toeava broke through the Ulster defensive line in the first minute and finished with a beautiful sidestep past Tommy Bowe.

Their second try came just before the twenty minute mark. A mistake from Charles Piutau led to a Clermont turnover. Some quick hands from the French backline gave Nick Abendanon an easy finish in the corner.

The Clermont dominance continued with another Abendanon try. A wonderful cross-field kick from Camille Lopez picked out the former Bath man to extend Clermont’s lead to 21 points.

The hosts continued their dominance going into the second-half. With Ulster still yet to register a score, Clermont secured their bonus point try through Lopez. The fly-half intercepted a loose pass to run the length of the field and dot down.

Finally, as the game approached the hour mark, Ulster opened their account for the evening. A nice move from the back line left Bowe free on the outside, and the Ireland international made no mistake from close range.

Ulster continued to press on and scored their second try shortly after. A strong driving maul was finished off by replacement second-row Franco van der Merwe. Paddy Jackson converted to reduce the deficit to 18 points.

The remarkable comeback continued with Ulster’s third try in ten minutes. After a brilliant break from Stuart McCloskey the Clermont defence struggled to regain its structure, making it easy for Bowe to cross for his second of the game.

As Clermont looked to kill the Ulster momentum, the French side were awarded a penalty at the scrum. With regular kicker Morgan Parra off the field, it was Lopez who stepped up to slot the three points and extend Clermont’s lead back to 12 points with ten minutes left.

But as Ulster searched for a way back into the game, Clermont punished them at the other end. A break from the hosts was halted illegally by Jackson. A yellow card followed for the Ulster fly-half and Clermont were awarded the penalty try, which sealed the win.

The scorers:

For Clermont:
Tries: Toeava, Abendanon 2, Lopez, Penalty Try
Cons: Parra 4, Lopez
Pen: Lopez

For Ulster:
Tries: Bowe 2, Van der Merwe
Cons: Jackson 2
Yellow Card: Jackson

Clermont: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Rémi Lamerat, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Nick Abendanon, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly (c), 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Viktor Kolelishvili, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Arthur Iturria, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphaël Chaume
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Michael Simutoga, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 22 Patricio Fernández, 23 Aurélien Rougerie

Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Peter Browne, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Kyle McCall
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andy Warwick, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Jacob Stockdale

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)