Planet Rugby

Clermont hold off brave Racing-Métro

09th September 2012 21:52

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Naipolioni Nalaga scoring in corner for Clermont

Early try: Naipolioni Nalaga

Clermont extended their unbeaten run on home soil to 45 fixtures on Sunday after surviving a mighty scare against Racing to win 13-12 at Marcel Michelin.

Racing were 7-12 up with 24 minutes remaining but could not hold on for what would have been a monumental Top 14 success in the Auvergne.

Instead, Morgan Parra kicked two penalties for the star-studded home side, who move up to fourth in the table behind Toulon, Biarritz and Toulouse.

Les Jaunards came out of the blocks with real intent as centre Wesley Fofana glided over the advantage line to spark an attack. Fofana's initial bust put the home side on the front foot and they capitalised on a disorganised defence by coming left, with quick hands finding Naipolioni Nalaga. The wing used his sizeable bulk to power over in the left-hand corner, with France scrum-half Parra converting nicely with just three minutes played.

But back came the Parisians as the offences started to mount up against Clermont, with impressive visiting full-back Benjamin Dambielle punishing the hosts with the first of his three penalties.

His effort made it 7-3 on 12 minutes before Parra missed an opportunity to cancel that out.

Tempers began to fray at Marcel Michelin and the scoring ultimately took a turn for the worst until half-time as only another penalty from Dambielle on 29 minutes troubled the board. It was 7-6 going into the break as Racing sensed a possible first victory on Clermont soil.

Referee Jean-Luc Rebollal was clearly not endearing himself to the home supporters and boos sounded when he sent flanker Julien Bardy to the sin-bin three minutes into the second-half. A few passages later, now fly-half Dambielle capitalised on the numerical advantage as his third penalty pushed Racing 7-9 up to turn the jeers into silence.

The pressure was mounting on Clermont and when Fabrice Estebanez slotted a long-range drop on 56 minutes it looked as though their phenomenal run was finally coming to an end.

But this is Clermont on home soil and they found a way to claw their way back as Racing - now without an injured Dambielle - coughed up two Parra penalties which saw ASM prevail.

The scorers:

For Clermont:
Tries: Nalaga
Con: Parra
Pen: Parra 2

For Racing Métro:
Pen: Dambielle 3
Drop: Estebanez

Clermont: 15 Jean Marcellin Buttin, 14 Noa Seru Nakaitaci, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Vincent Debaty.
Replacements: 16 Benoit Cabello, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Loic Jacquet, 19 Elvis Vermeulen, 20 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 21 Regan King, 22 Lee Byrne, 23 Daniel Kotze.

Racing Métro: 15 Benjamin Dambielle, 14 Mirco Bergamasco, 13 Guillaume Bousses, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Julien Saubade, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Mathieu Belie, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Antoine Battut, 5 Fabrice Metz, 4 Santiago Dellape, 3 Salemane Sa, 2 Thomas Bianchin, 1 Julien Brugnaut.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Karim Ghezal, 19 Camille Gerondeau, 20 Maxime Machenaud, 21 Henry Chavancy, 22 Virimi Vakatawa, 23 Luc Ducalcon.

Referee: Jean-Luc Rebollal

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