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Naps decisive in Clermont’s victory
H-Cup Man of the Match, Napolioni Nalaga proved the difference in the second H-Cup match of the season as Clermont battled to a useful away win at Montauban. The hosts were fresh from their impressive showing in Limerick, and were determined to lay down another European marker by beating Clermont.
It was Clermont who took the early initiative though, pressurising Montauban at the kick off. The ball was spun wide quickly and sweetly through the hands of the three-quarters to find Nalaga with half a gap. He then navigated his way around his old mentor Villamoni Delasau before powering up the right wing to score. James converted. Montauaban came back scoring from three Mitu penalties. However Clermont were playing all of the real running rugby, on what was a more than a balmy Sunday afternoon. Nalaga again hit a gap and was only just hauled down before the line. The ever present Alex Audebert picked and went through a gap like a salmon up a burn to score, James again converted. 17-12 at half time as the English refereeing contingent retired to the changing rooms to put on more sun-cream!
The ‘Greens’ started well in the second half playing some good offloading rugby between their forwards, and using their wingers to make in-field intrusions. Audrin counter attacked well and chipped ahead, the ball was fumbled by both attack and defense and bounced about in a fashion that would have made Barnes-Wallis proud, before falling into the lap of the grateful Battut, who scored under the posts. Mitu converted. The game was delicately poised as news filtered through from Sale that Munster had won. Clermont, whilst blowing a bit hot and cold, were playing some good rugby. A training ground move sent Mignoni flying through a gap after a lineout, but the initiative was not rewarded as a lack of support led to the move breaking down. However Clermont assured the vital away win when Nalaga decided to help the forwards out after a series of charges close to the line. The Fijian again showing his power, this time over a shorter distance, to score his second. In extra time Brock James dumbfounded the Clermont support after going for a drop goal, when a bonus point try could have been on, but that said Clermont had to be happy with their victory. The game was also the first outing for new signing at tight head, Bees Roux, who showed enough promise to satisfy his coaches .