Clermont down Ospreys in high-scoring thriller

2015-11-22 17:55
Rugby ball (File)

Paris - Clermont belatedly opened their European Cup campaign with a thrilling 34-29, five-point win over Welsh side Ospreys on Sunday.

Two dazzling tries from man-of-the match England winger Dave Strettle inspired last year's beaten finalists as Ospreys made it one win for one loss, whilst taking two bonus points - one defensive and one for scoring four tries.

The in-form Welsh were well on top early on with a series of charges just short of the Clermont line resulting in a yellow card for French international flanker Alexandre Lapandry for tackling Dmitri Arhip before he received the ball

Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar opened the scoring with a drop kick after 17 minutes only for his Clermont counterpart Camille Lopez to match with a penalty, two minutes later.

That sparked off a period of domination from Clermont leading up to a spectacular try from former Strettle in the 26th minute, bursting clear from the halfway line to exploit a gap in the home defence.

Lopez converted for a 10-3 lead and the home side sustained the pressure with Strettle again to the fore with some dazzling running.

The pressure paid off again four minutes from half-time when veteran back Aurelie Rougerie was sent clear after some fine handling and off-loads sucked in several Osprey players to shore up their defences.

Clermont turned with a 20-3 lead, but it was all Ospreys at the start of the second half, culminating in a fine driving maul which allowed Justin Tipuric to touch down.

Biggar converted to make it 20-10 and minutes later it was 20-17 after Eli Walker beat a slack Clermont defence to get a hand on the ball after Tipuric had hacked through a loose ball.

The tide though tuned again with Clermont regaining the initiative. Wesley Fofana spilled a fine Brock James chip kick on the line, but in the home side's next attack, Strettle once again jinked and darted through for his second try of the match.

Clermont were 27-17 ahead with 12 minutes to go and when Ospreys were reduced to 14 men four minutes later the win was in the bag for the Top-14 leaders.

Fofana touched down with four minutes to go only for Ospreys to produce a grandstand finish with two tries in the last minute from Sam Parry and Tom Habberfield


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