Clermont outclass gutsy Chiefs
October 20, 2012
Wesley Fofana crossed twice in the second-half for Clermont
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Clermont Auvergne delivered a timely reminder of their class by beating Heineken Cup newcomers Exeter 46-12 at Sandy Park on Saturday.
Last season's Heineken Cup semi-finalists, Clermont went back to the top of Pool Five thanks to a 13-minute burst at the start of the second-half. The visitors were quick off the mark at the restart, scoring 15 points to regain the lead - which they held on to and increased without reply.
Exeter dominated the early passages of play and fly-half Gareth Steenson put the home side in front with a brace of penalties before the 10-minute mark. The visitors then came into the game but France international scrum-half Morgan Parra, who kicked 17 points last week against the Scarlets, was off-target with a 30-metre penalty and wing Napolioni Nalaga had a try ruled out by TMO Kevin Beggs.
But after a poor Chiefs lineout the visitors seized the ball and the Fijian international squeezed in the corner, with Parra adding the touchline conversion to put Clermont Auvergne in front.
Exeter then showed that they were prepared to pursue running rugby and, after 25 minutes, the visitors were again penalised for going off their feet and Steenson landed a 41m penalty to restore the the advantage for the Devon side.
Clermont were then penalised for wheeling a scrum 10 metres from their own line and Steenson landed his fourth kick. Parra reduced the arrears to two points at the break with a penalty, with Exeter No.8 Richie Baxter in the sin-bin, but Les Jaunards were rightly aggrieved after a try to Gerhard Vosloo was not spotted by the officials earlier in the piece.
Clermont Auvergne looked dangerous in the early stages of the second half against 14-man Exeter and fullback Luke Arscott and Ian Whitten were forced to bundle Nalaga in to touch just short of the line.
The visitors regained the lead after five minutes of the half through a Parra penalty, followed by Wesley Fofana breaking from 30 metres to score despite the video replay showing a foot in touch after a Tom Johnson half-tackle.
A second try followed soon after as Wales international fullback Lee Byrne gave the scoring pass to flanker Julien Bonnaire for a 25-12 lead. As the game went into the final 10 minutes Clermont Auvergne wrapped up the bonus point and made a statement as Sitiveni Sivivatu, Fofana and Nalaga all crossed the Chiefs' line.
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