Ulster came from behind to pick up a home victory in Pool 4 of the Heineken Cup, edging Clermont 16-11 at Ravenhill on Saturday.
Ulster came from behind to pick up a vital home success in Pool 4 of the Heineken Cup, seeing off Clermont 16-11 at Ravenhill on Saturday.
Fly-half Ian Humphreys kicked three penalties and converted his own try as Ulster got their European campaign up and running with four key points.
The late five-pointer was created by replacement full-back Adam D'Arcy, whose step from inside his own half led to an inside ball to his number ten.
Humphreys remained cool to add the extras from wide out as Ulster held on against one of the favourites for the Heineken Cup crown in 2011/12.
Clermont were arguably the better team but individual performances from Stephen Ferris and Paul Marshall ultimately earned the hosts victory.
The first half proved to be a scrappy affair, with neither side managing to hold on to possession for long enough to cause the opposition continued difficulties, but the visitors deserved their 11-6 lead at the break at Ravenhill.
Clermont, who sit second in the Top 14 just a point behind Toulouse, claimed the half's solitary try through Fijian U20 wing Noa Nakaitaci after the youngster saw off Marshall's desperate tackle.
But while it was Nakaitaci left celebrating the score on his Heineken Cup debut, the real inspiration was Wales and Lions star Lee Byrne. The ex Osprey ghosted through on the edge of the 22 to give his new side's Heineken hopes an early boost.
With the normally reliable boot of Morgan Parra failing to add the extras and an earlier penalty attempt, David Skrela took over the duties from the tee and landed a seventeenth minute effort that cancelled out Humphreys' first successful strike of the game.
Skrela slotted a second shot at goal to hand Clermont an eight-point advantage just two minutes before the break but Humphreys cut the gap to five on the stroke of half-time.
The game came alive in the second period although the scoreboard was rarely troubled. Humphreys reduced the deficit even further ten minutes in before his try late on.
Brock James could have kept Clermont on track for a vital victory but he twice missed the target after replacing Skrela and Clermont were left to ponder what might have been.
Pen: Skrela 2
Ulster: 15 Simon Danielli, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Nevin Spence, 23 Adam D'Arcy.
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 AurÃ©lien Rougerie, 12 Regan King, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 David Skrela, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Lionel Faure.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 ClÃ©ment Ric, 18 Mattheus Kotze, 19 Jason White, 20 Julien Bardy, 21 Kevin Senio, 22 Brock James, 23 Jean-Marcel Buttin.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)