Strettle shines for Clermont

Date published: November 22 2015

Two tries from David Strettle helped Clermont see off the challenge of the Ospreys on Sunday as they won 34-29 at Stade Marcel-Michelin.

This was les Jaunards' 24th successive win at home in the Champions Cup and it was inspired by new wing signing Strettle, who was superb.

His try in each half was one of four for the European hopefuls as Aurélien Rougerie and Wesley Fofana also crossed in an absorbing contest.

But the Ospreys will go home pleased with their work as two late scores saw them pick up two points via four tries of their own and losing by less than seven points, with their attitude excellent throughout as they tested Clermont.

Justin Tipuric, Eli Walker, Sam Parry and Tom Habberfield were their try-scorers, with the scrum-half's coming in the final act of the game in what was arguably the pick of the bunch in Sunday's match as the Welsh went from range.

Strettle though scored the game's first try which came in the 26th minute after countryman Nick Abendanon put him through a hole on halfway. He did the rest with a searing run that ended with him putting Ospreys full-back Dan Evans on his backside as Clermont moved 10-3 ahead.

Ospreys had taken the lead in the thirteenth minute when a smart drop-goal from Dan Biggar saw them come away with some reward for their early dominance. Opposite number Camille Lopez soon responded however off the kicking tee when Biggar had taken out Fritz Lee in the air.

One sensed that after Strettle's try Clermont were moving up the gears and it came as no surprise that they crossed again on 36 minutes, with Strettle sparking the attack from halfway before recycled ball saw Lopez put Rougerie over with a fine pass. It was now 17-3 but Clermont would have another opportunity for points before the break as Lopez added three from distance after flank Tipuric's clumsy high tackle.

The Welsh side refused to roll over though and came out after the interval showing plenty, as prop Dmitri Arhip came within centimetres of scoring. They did have their reward on 49 minutes though when Tipuric crossed on the back of a maul, Biggar's kick making it 20-10.

Suddenly it was game on at Stade Marcel-Michelin when Walker chased hard to beat Noa Nakaitaci to Tipuric's hack ahead. Again Biggar was successful off the tee and it was now 20-17 with 27 minutes remaining for the Ospreys to capitalise on their dominance in the second-half.

Clermont attempted to stem the tide by sending on Brock James and it almost paid immediate dividends when his chip over the top looked set to put Fofana over. The busy centre however fumbled with the try-line at his mercy but fortunately for him his blushes would soon be spared.

Indeed they were as from nothing Strettle found a hole 20 metres out before a slalom run under the posts. With James adding the conversion, Clermont once again had breathing space at 27-17 as the game neared its final ten minutes.

Cue an all-action finish as first James would find Fofana with a cross-field kick to secure Clermont's bonus-point before the Welsh visitors put on a masterclass in the closing minutes, with first Tipuric setting up replacement hooker Parry and then a wonderful break-out from their 22 resulted in Biggar sending Habberfield on a sprint to the line.

The two points were no less than the Ospreys deserved.

The scorers:

For Clermont:
Tries: Strettle 2, Rougerie, Fofana
Con: Lopez 2, Parra 2
Pen: Lopez 2

For Ospreys:
Tries: Tipuric, Walker, Parry, Habberfield
Con: Biggar 3
Drop: Biggar

Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 David Strettle, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Damien Chouly (c), 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Marthinius Van Der Westhuizen, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Flip Van Der Merwe, 20 Vito Kolelishvili, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic, 22 Brock James, 23 Albert Vulivuli.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Grabham, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Thomas Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)