Clermont go top with Racing draw

Date published: February 21 2015

Brock James' touchline conversion secured a 13-13 draw for Clermont at Racing-Métro to send them top of the Top 14.

With Toulon and Stade Français having both lost earlier in the day, Clermont knew they would go top if they could avoid defeat in Paris.

The first half was dominated by handling errors as the defences took the upper hand.

But after the break Marc Andreu's try gave Racing the lead before Noa Nakaitaci's late score, converted by James earned the draw.

The most notable event of the opening 40 minutes was Jonathan Sexton becoming the first player to be timed out for a kick at goal as he exceeded his 90 seconds for an early penalty.

That allowed Morgan Parra to open the scoring for Clermont, with Sexton sorting his timing out just before the half-hour to level things.

With the sides level at 3-3 at the break, some better fare was expected in the second half, and it started well.

Sexton's delicated chip out of his own 22 was collected by Henry Chavancy who then flicked the ball out of the hand to Juan Imhoff. While the Pumas winger was stopped short of the line, it was the best chance of the game for the home side.

Clermont hit straight back with a cross-kick from Brock James just too far in front of Napolioni Nalaga with the Fijian winger unmarked.

After a maul that was stopped illegally, Parra put Clermont back in front, but that was quickly cancelled out by Sexton after Fritz Lee was penalised at a ruck.

Clermont were looking more dangerous and almost had the first try when Maxime Machenaud was charged down on his own line. Nalaga knocked on in-goal though and Racing survived.

And under pressure with a scrum five metres from their own line, Racing produced a huge drive to earn a penalty and clear their lines.

Against the run of play Racing finally scored the first try with a touch of good fortune. After failing to find a way through the Clermont defence, an overhit kick into the 22 by Sexton bounced kindly away from Zac Guildford and into Andreu's hands leaving him to dive over. Sexton converted to make it 13-6.

Clermont came back, and almost went over after a half-break from Nick Abendanon but their handling again let them down.

That seemed to be Clermont's chance gone, with Racing able to manage the game thanks to a powerful scrum and functioning lineout.

Clermont finally went over with eight minutes remaining through Nakaitaci on the left after a great break from Jonathan Davies to set up the attack. However with Parra off due to a knock to his knee, it was up to Brock James to convert from the touchline. The Australian's effort held its line just inside the post to bring the visitors deservedly level.

On the stroke of full-time a Racing defender failed to release at a ruck, giving James the chance to win it for Clermont. From 40 metres out  he was wide with his effort and the game ended as a draw.

The scorers:

For Racing-Métro:
Try: Andreu
Con: Sexton
Pens: Sexton 2

For Clermont:
Try: Nakaitaci
Con: James
Pens: Parra 2

Racing-Métro: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Camille Gerondeau, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois Van der Merwe, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (c), 1 Julien Brugnaut

Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Juandre Kruger, 19 Thibault Dubarry, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 Johan Goosen, 22 Yoan Audrin, 23 Brian Mujati

Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee , 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser (c), 1 Vincent Debaty 
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Paul Jedrasiak, 19 Alexandre Lapandry, 20 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Noa Nakaitaci, 23 Clement Ric

Referee: Romain Poite 
Venue: Stade Yves du Manoir, Colombes