Clermont start campaign on a winning note
October 13, 2012
Sitiveni Sivivatu goes over against the Scarlets
© Getty Images
Clermont Auvergne scored six tries to down the Scarlets 49-16 at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday.
The Welsh side were more than competitive for the first 37 minutes but Morgan Stoddart's dismissal just before the break following a second yellow card effectively ended their hopes of an heroic Heineken Cup upset. The scores were level at 13-13 when the Wales wing - who was making just his second appearance since a 15-month injury lay off - saw red, but last season's beaten semi-finalists ran away with game after that to secure a comprehensive bonus-point success.
Jon Davies' early try was the highlight for the Scarlets but Clermont crossed for six scores of their own, with Damien Chouly, Lee Byrne, Julien Bonnaire, Napolioni Nalaga and a penalty try adding to Sitiveni Sivivatu's first-half score. The Scarlets enjoyed the perfect start as Davies crossed for the game's opening try with just five minutes played. The much-vaunted Scarlets back line did the damage, with strong handling from Wales stars George North, Scott Williams and Priestland providing the platform for Davies to step inside two tackles on his way to the line.
Priestland converted to hand the Scarlets a 7-0 lead but Parra, who finished with 17 points, cut the deficit with a penalty after Scarlets captain Rob McCusker held Clermont skipper Aurelien Rougerie to the floor off the ball just over a minute later. Stoddart received his first yellow card for a cynical offside on the quarter-hour mark and Parra made him pay for his indiscretion by slotting the straightforward penalty.
The visitors survived Stoddart's first 10 minutes in the sin bin and actually led by an even greater margin by the time he returned as Priestland slotted a 20th-minute penalty and a 22nd-minute drop goal. Sivivatu's converted try levelled things up on 31 minutes as the former New Zealand wing combined with Parra after the scrum-half took a clever inside ball from a lineout close to halfway.
But the match turned three minutes before the break as Stoddart saw yellow for the second time after more individual brilliance from Sivivatu. Stoddart was penalised for failing to roll away after making a tackle just yards from his own line and referee Peter Fitzgibbon followed the yellow card with a red.
Parra's penalty handed Clermont a 16-13 lead at the interval and they increased that advantage just after the sides returned courtesy of a penalty try. Nathan Hines' charge-down of Priestland's clearance provided the initial platform and the pack did the rest by forcing the Scarlets' front row to buckle under pressure.
Clermont effectively put the game to bed after Priestland had kicked another penalty as Lee Byrne touched down against his old club on 48 minutes. Again, Sivivatu provided the telling contribution as his wrap-around pass saw the Wales and Lions full back race down the right touchline.
Parra's fine form with the boot continued as he added the extras and Clermont were celebrating the bonus-point with 25 minutes still left to play when number eight Damien Chouly powered over from close range. The Scarlets refused to lie down but further scores from Bonnaire and Nalaga added an even greater gloss to Clermont's winning margin.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery