Clermont overturned a half-time deficit to beat Toulon 25-19 on Sunday to maintain their unbeaten home record in the Top 14.
Clermont overturned a half-time deficit to beat Toulon 25-19 on Sunday to maintain their unbeaten home record at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin.
Clermont have not lost at their fortress since November 2009 and Toulon came desperately close to ending that run but a 65th-minute try from skipper AurÃ©lien Rougerie saw the hosts edge a highly exciting encounter.
A losing bonus point sees Toulon climb back to third in the standings while Clermont remain second, six points adrift of leaders Toulouse but ten clear of their visitors.
Toulon have never won in Clermont but took a 13-6 lead when Jonny Wilkinson converted full-back Benjamin Lapeyre's fantastic solo try after 25 minutes.
Wilkinson and Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra both excelled from the kicking tee and traded penalties to leave RCT 16-12 up at the break
The first half had be characterised by Toulon's outstanding defence but France wing Julien Malzieu finally found a crack in the red wall in the second period, bursting clear to put Rougerie in for the winning try.
It was high intensity stuff from the first whistle to the last as Toulon pushed hard in the closing stages to snatch victory and gain revenge for the 17-0 drubbing handing to them by les Juanards earlier in the season.
But it wasn't to be and although les Varois will be disappointed with the final result, they will see a silver lining in a much-improved performance.
Pens: Parra 6
Pens: Wilkinson 4
Yellow cards: Rougerie (Clermont – 37th min – punching); Orioli (Toulon – 37th min – punching); Smith (Toulon – 51st min – intentional knock-on)
ASM Clermont Auvergne: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 AurÃ©lien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 David Skrela, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Clement Ric, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Vincent Debaty.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Lionel Faure, 18 Loic Jacquet, 19 Julien Bardy, 20 Kevin Senio, 21 Brock James , 22 Regan King, 23 Daniel Kotze.
RC Toulon: 15 Benjamin Lapeyre, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Geoffroy Messina, 12 Matthew Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Joseph El Abd, 5 Simon Shaw, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Jean Charles Orioli, 1 Laurent Emmanuelli.
Replacements: 16 Sebastien Bruno, 17 Eifion Lewis Roberts, 18 Bakkies Botha, 19 Kristian Chesney, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 Pierrick Gunther, 22 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 23 Davit Kubriashvili.
Referee: Christophe Berdos