Match report: Wasps edge out Clermont Auvergne
December 15, 2007
London Wasps survived a second half fightback from ASM Clermont Auvergne to record a 25-24 Heineken Cup Pool 5 victory at Adams Park.
Danny Cipriani hauled Heineken Cup champions Wasps to the summit of Pool Five with a stellar display against Clermont Auvergne at Adams Park.
But the victory was marred by an incident in the second half that saw a spectator attempt to strike Clermont prop Martin Scelzo with a programme.
The flashpoint occurred when a large brawl broke out and spilt onto the sidelines, resulting in a yellow card for Jamie Cudmore who landed several punches on Tim Payne.
Clermont blindside Cudmore could have been sent off for the offence and is sure to be cited, while the attack on Scelzo will also be pored over by tournament organisers.
Wasps survived a second-half fightback to avenge their 37-27 defeat by the French club last weekend with Eoin Reddan, Tom Voyce and Paul Sackey running in tries.
Sackey's score, which started inside the 22, was a contender for try of the season but Cipriani's performance was the highlight of the contest.
The 20-year-old fly-half is enhancing his claim to full England recognition every week and tonight he further improved his hopes of figuring in the RBS 6 Nations.
Two conversions and a brace of penalties were the sub-script to a scintillating 80 minutes that saw him repeatedly shred the Clermont defence with slick handling and a series of telling kicks.
His late penalty appeared to have denied Clermont a losing bonus point but Emmanuel Etien drove over four minutes into injury time to rescue the precious point.
Etien's try capped a stirring comeback by Clermont who rallied after a dismal first half with tries from Aurelien Rougerie and Filimoni Delasau.
Former Wasps fly-half Alex King kicked the rest of their points in a dramatic encounter that deserved its grandstand finish.
Josh Lewsey was named at full-back for his first start since the World Cup but the England star lasted only 20 minutes before limping off.
It was a cruel blow as he had spearheaded Wasps' lively start, finding space down the left and then evading two tacklers in the tightest of spaces to break through the middle.
A timely tackle by Pierre Mignoni stopped him dead in his tracks but James Haskell was on his shoulder in support until a spilt ball saw the move break down.
Wasps looked sharp on the counter and they managed to break free in the seventh minute, setting up a commanding field position that yielded their first try.
A rolling maul ended when the ball squirted out and Reddan was alive to the opportunity, scooping up and chipping ahead before finishing the move.
Cipriani added the conversion and then set up Sackey with an astute kick only for the England winger to spill the ball forward with the line beckoning.
Wasps did not have to wait long for their next score, however, as a line-out catch and drive set up the platform for Voyce to cross in the left corner with Sackey supplying the telling pass.
Cipriani landed the extras and then a penalty for good measure, handing the defending champions a 15-0 lead inside the opening 15 minutes.
The flow of points stopped as Clermont overcame their nightmare opening by launching waves of attacks that ended when Wasps stole the ball in their own 22.
Cipriani went a hair's breadth from touching down Fraser Waters' chip ahead but the duo combined to greater success in the 32nd minute to set up Wasps' third try.
The move started inside Wasps' 22, Cipriani and Waters linking superbly down the right before the former delivered the scoring pass to Sackey who finished a magnificent try.
Clermont's defence was reduced to panic stations once more shortly before half-time with Cipriani doing the damage yet again, only for Simon Shaw to knock on at the crucial moment.
The French club, who sit third in their domestic championship, notched their first try four minutes after the interval when Rougerie grabbed Cipriani's kick and ran the length of the field.
King converted and moments later Sackey charged into space, but Clermont looked less brittle than in the first half and they spent long spells of the third quarter in Wasps' 22.
But their hopes of continuing the fightback were hit by Cudmore's yellow card for his involvement in the brawl.
They shrugged off the setback, however, to score through substitute Delasau who almost ran the length of the field and outstripped Sackey on the way.
Cipriani hit the posts with a penalty but landed his second with a minute to go - and there was one last twist in a dramatic match.
With Clermont pounding away in search of the losing bonus point, Etien barged over for a try converted by King to give the French club reward for a stirring fightback.
London Wasps (22) 25
ASM Clermont Auvergne (3) 24
London Wasps: J Lewsey; P Sackey, F Waters, R Flutey, T Voyce; D Cipriani, E Reddan; T Payne, R Ibanez, N Adams, S Shaw, G Skivington, J Haskell, T Rees, L Dallaglio (capt).
Replacements: R Webber, T French, R Birkett, D Leo, M McMillan, M van Gisbergen, J Hart.
ASM Clermont Auvergne: S Bai; A Rougerie (capt), G Esterhuizen, P Garcia, J Malzieu; A King, P Mignoni; L Emmanuelli, J Smit, M Scelzo, L Jacquet, C Samson, J Cudmore, F Alexandre, E Vermeulen.
Replacements: M Ledesma, G Shvelidze, P Vigouroux, E Etien, J Senio, R Chanal, V Delasau.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
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