Planet Rugby

Clermont claim the upper hand

08th December 2007 15:25


James Haskell of London Wasps v Clermont in Heineken Cup

James Haskell: Makes the most of some weak Clermont defence to score

Clermont capitalised on several moments of Wasps ill-discipline to send the Heineken Cup champions home empty-handed on Saturday, in a rugged 37-27 victory in the Heineken Cup.

Wasps were punished for a gamble in the dying throes of a enthralling game. There will be those who argue it was a needless gamble, and those who commend Wasps' adventure, but let's reserve judgement until the end of this gripping pool, as only then will the true value of a missed bonus point become clear.

Truth be known, this defeat was born out of the Wasps' own indiscipline, the sort that crept into their game as early as the second minute and from then on the rot spread. Six of those infringements were punished by the impeccable boot of Brock James, but there were several more in less advantageous positions.

There will also be no doubt that Wasps will look to one critical moment in the game, the sort of moment that a game, and in this case a pool, can hinge on. Patient approach work from Clermont created the space on the blind side for the tenacious Mario Ledesma, who in turn dipped his shoulder and bullocked over for what seemed a perfectly legitimate score.

Several television replays showed that the hooker clearly failed to score, James Haskell's despairing boot preventing the grounding before Mark Van Gisbergen wrestled the ball from Ledesma's failing grip. Yet the TMO controversially awarded the try to deal the champions a devastating blow on the stroke of half time.

An opening quarter that stumbled along will be remembered for three penalties, two for James and one for Danny Cipriani, and little else. Both sides looked to wrestle control from the other, only to achieve a stalemate that threatened to spoil the spectacle.

Then, against the flow of the game, Clermont struck in superb fashion. A midfield scrum allowed them to probe the blind side through Pierre Mignoni and then Marius Joubert. It was Joubert who attracted the Wasps cover defenders before slipping a dreamy pass back into Julien Malzieu who did the rest.

Wasps, on the ropes, flexed their muscle and hit back with a score of their own, although Sam Broomhall and Julien Bonnaire will rather forget the incident altogether. Haskell took up possession of the ball faced with the formidable back row pair and set his direction straight at them. Contact was taken and somehow Haskell emerged on the other side with a simple route to the line. Broomhall and Bonnaire were left clutching at thin air.

It was then, as Wasps looked to claim a footing in the game, that Ledesma scored to open up a telling gap at the interval. It was a gap that Wasps had little regard for, taking just a minute of the second half to cut it by seven, Tim Payne finishing off a fine flowing move.

The indiscipline then began to eat away at the very core of Wasps, Brock James slotting the first of four second-half penalties from straight in front. Haskell did help himself to a second score, thanks largely to the one poor Clermont line-out of the game, nonetheless it was a try that swung the lead the way of the champions for the first time.

Knowing that they had a chance to consolidate their favourable position Wasps proceeded to surrender their lead inside a minute, this time Phil Vickery the guilty party, not for the first or last time. Two successful penalties from James soon become three when Simon Shaw was caught offside, and then three became four with Vickery's idiotic stamp on the prone Thibaut Privat.

Staring the prospect of going home empty-handed in the face Wasps were thrown a lifeline after Malzieu was caught with his hands in the cookie jar at the ruck. Cipriani shouldered the pressure - he had failed twice before - and delivered the required result with a fine kick. Time for Wasps to chance their arm, one sensed.

Indeed they did chance their arm and it cost them dear, as it was when they desperately went after a winning score that the ball was lost and Aurélien Rougerie ran away with a try, the game, and Wasps' precious bonus-point.

Man of the match: For Wasps there was the dynamic Raphaël Ibañez and outstanding James Haskell, but it was the Clermont players who stole the show. Mario Ledesma was immense, turning in a vintage performance, but it was his fly-half Brock James who steals the award from him. It was his boot that won this game, primarily the points it contributed but also the manner in which he pinned Wasps back time and again.

The scorers:

For Clermont:

Try: Malzieu, Ledesma, Rougerie

Cons: James 2

Pens: James 6

For Wasps:

Tries: Haskell 2, Payne

Cons: Cipriani 3

Pens: Cipriani 2

The Teams:

Clermont Auvergne: 15 Anthony Floch, 14 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Gonzalo Canale, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Brock James, 9 Pierre Mignoni, 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Sam Broomhall, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Martin Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Laurent Emmanuelli.

Replacements: 16 Mirko Lozupone, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Alexandre Audebert, 20 John Senio, 21 Alex King, 22 Benoît Baby.

London Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio (c), 7 James Haskell, 6 John Hart, 5 George Skivington, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Phil Vickery, 2 Raphael Ibanez, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Nick Adams, 18 Richard Birkett, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Simon Amor, 21 Josh Lewsey, 22 Tom Rees.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

Touch judges: George Clancy (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand20:50
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table