Planet Rugby

Clermont maintain home record

21st March 2014 21:16

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frederic michalak toulon clermont

Vision: Freddie Michalak

Clermont narrowly maintained their winning run at home with a late 22-16 victory over inconsistent title rivals Toulon on Friday.

A brace of Morgan Parra penalties in the closing minutes ensured les Jaunards extended their astonishing unbeaten streak at Marcel Michelin to 74 games.

It was the hosts who started the brighter, bagging the first points through a Parra three-pointer before Julien Bonnaire had a "try" chalked off for a forward pass.

Clermont had a penalty advantage from that move, however, and the scrum-half stepped up to give his side a 6-0 lead, his counterpart Freddie Michalak missing with what should have been a straightforward shot at goal.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors as a turnover led to a barnstorming breakaway try for giant Fijian winger Naipolioni Nalaga, Parra adding the extras.

Michalak responded with a brace of penalties, before Jamie Cudmore was sin-binned for illegally bringing a halt to a dangerous Toulon maul metres from the Clermont line.

A man up, and deep in home territory, the visitors opted for a series of scrums, before making a hash of a five-metre lineout to end the half trailing by seven.

Parra notched his third penalty shortly after the break, but Toulon were growing in confidence. Michalak cancelled out the scrum-half's effort, before the visitors leveled the scores with a fine try.

Clermont's defence grew desperate as the red jerseys piled forth, and a gap finally appeared for loosehead Xavier Chiocci to plunge over the line. Michalak converted, and suddenly the hosts' famous record looked in danger as Fritz Lee was sent packing for ten minutes for a dangerous tackle.

But smart rugby, and an excellent display of tactical kicking from Brock James, kept Clermont in the Toulon half. They ground out penalties, and Parra stepped up twice more to seal the victory.

The scorers:

For Clermont:
Try: Nalaga
Con: Parra
Pens: Parra 5
Yellow Cards: Cudmore, Lee

For Toulon:
Try: Chiocci
Con: Michalak
Pens: Michalak 3

The teams:

Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Benoit Cabello, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Damien Chouly, 20 Thierry Lacrampe, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Regan King, 23 Daniel Kotze.

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Josua Tuisova, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Xavier Chiocci.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Noirot, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Pierrick Gunther, 20 Jonny Wilkinson, 21 Theo Belan, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Levan Chilachava.

Referee: Pascal Gauzère
Assistant referees: Sébastien Clouté, Christophe Malterre

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