European Cup: Clermont woke up too late in the fortress of Ulster




Six days after the festival against the Harlequins (53-21), the Auvergnats first showed a pale face before putting a lot of pressure on the experienced North Irish club. In vain. This setback made them lose first place to Ulster, victorious in the snatch Bath (17-16) Saturday.

Small consolation for the Clermontois: the point of the defensive bonus.

"We know what is waiting for us there: it will be bitter, with a lot of play. It's a big challenge!" Warned Franck Azema before this perilous trip to Ravenhill, renamed Kingspan Stadium. The ASM coach did not make a mistake as his players suffered for 40 minutes on a sodden lawn where he never managed to win in three games.

The double bonus obtained in December 2016 (defeat 39-32) could make optimistic Yellow and Blue, back in the European Cup after a successful European Challenge campaign. But it may have been forgotten that Ulster has won 28 of its last 32 games, including the last six at home in the European group phase.

Reaction too late

Orphaned by his legendary hooker Rory Best, freshly retired, the team of Northern Ireland made strong arguments: a control in the balloons worn and an aggressiveness in the rucks that hit home early in the game.

At the break, the 1999 European Champion had a 10-point lead (13-3) thanks to Jordi Murphy's video refereeing test and John Cooney's skill at the foot. The brilliant half of Irish scrum, already author of two penalties and a transformation, could have made the addition worse if he had not stumbled on a clod of land a few meters from the in-goal (8th). The feverish Clermont could thank the rain fell before the meeting galore.

Despite a rough game, the ASM had a good opportunity in the first half, with Australian fly-half Jake McIntyre slamming a diagonal kick to Raka on the left wing. But the try was canceled for a forward of the Franco-Fijian winger of the XV of France and it took a successful penalty of the Scottish Greig Laidlaw to avoid a zero pointed Clermont.

The entry of a 100% French hinge, composed of Camille Lopez and Morgan Parra, boosted the game of ASM in the second half. Despite a solo test Cooney (62), the club Auvergnat was rewarded for his efforts in getting a penalty try (71). Too late, too fair.

Group 3 ranking

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