Clermont make history with Munster victory

French side Clermont made European Rugby history when they became the first French team to beat Munster at Thomond Park.

The former Irish Champion side had never lost to a French side in European Rugby at home but that record ended with a 9-16 loss to Clermont.

The French side, European runners-up in 2013, were by far the more enterprising and creative of the two sides, scoring first half tries through man-of-the-match Fritz Lee and Wesley Fofana.

But the sheer will, grit and brute force of the Irish, who were chasing a 100th win in Europe and had only twice before lost at home saw them banging on the door late on in hope of scoring a converted try that would have earned them a draw.

Instead they had to settle for a losing bonus point that leaves them third in Pool 1 and likely to need a victory in the French Massif Central next week to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

Clermont were off to a cracking start as they took the lead in the first minute.

After recovering their own kick-off, scrum-half Ludovic Radosavljevic chipped cleverly into the corner, forcing a line-out.

The French giants won their own ball before Samoan Lee spun around the back of a maul to touch down in the corner.

They missed a great chance to score a second try against their shellshocked hosts when flanker Julian Bonnaire opted to kick ahead rather than use an overlap that could have given Fiji flyer Napolioni Nalaga a free run to the line.

Munster stemmed the tide a touch with a penalty from Ian Keatley but Clermont were soon back on the scoresheet.

A sweeping move led by bulldozing centre Aurelien Rougerie swept left before coming back across the park where Lee drew in two defenders and popped the ball off to Fofana to arc around the final defender and dot down in the corner.

Fly-half Camille Lopez was struggling with tricky kicks from the touchline, though, and missed both conversions and a penalty.

Keatley’s second kick from the tee closed the gap again but Lopez, who was in fine form for France last month, finally knocked over a penalty and then added a long-range drop goal to send Clermont into the break 16-6 ahead.

The hosts, twice former European champions, cranked up the pressure in the second half and after 20 minutes of dominance, finally put three more points on the board through Keatley’s boot.

But although they monopolised the ball for long spells of the second period, Clermont defended stoutly to hold on for a win they enthusiastically celebrated.

Final Score Munster 9 (6) Clermont Auvergne 16 (16)

Scorers

Munster
Tries –
Pen – Keatley (3)
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Clermont Auvergne
Tries – Lee, Fofana
Pen – Lopez (2)
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee:
Wayne Barnes (England),
Assistant ref: Greg Garner (England),
Assistant ref: Paul Dix (England),
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England),
Citing commissioner :John Byett (England)

Munster Rugby: Felix Jones; Gerhard van den Heever, Pat Howard, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony (c), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Sean Dougall, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Johne Murphy

ASM Clermont Auvergne: Nick Abendanon; Noa Nakaitaci, Aurélien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Naipolioni Nalaga; Camille Lopez, Ludovic Radoslavjevic ; Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Clément Ric, Jamie Cudmore, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly (c), Julien Bonnaire, Fritz Lee

Replacements: John Ulugia, Vincent Debaty, Davit Zirakashvili, Julien Pierre, Alexandre Lapandry, Thierry Lacrampe, Brock James, Jonathan Davies

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