Clermont held on for an exciting 26-22 win over Montpellier in round two of the French Top 14, while there were also victories for Toulon, La Rochelle, Brive, Racing and Toulouse.
Montpellier had Clermont’s measure last season, completing the double over them. On Sunday, however, Clermont did just enough to get one over Jake White’s Bok-laden side.
The hosts scored the first try through lock Paul Willemse, but Clermont sped out to a 16-5 lead at the break via three penalties by Camille Lopez and a converted try by Fijian powerhouse Noa Nakaitaci.
Montpellier, who had already lost their campaign opener last weekend, looked disjointed and out of sorts. Their ill-discipline continued at the changeover as Lopez pushed Clermont out to a 14-point advantage with his fourth penalty.
Montpellier did enjoy more possession but their attack was flat. That was until hooker Bismarck du Plessis threw a miracle offload to Pierre Spies, who ran an exquisite line before leaving Clermont fullback Scott Spedding for dead to score.
Both sides would grab another converted try, but when Montpellier had an opportunity to go for a try to level matters with three minutes remaining, they opted for a penalty instead.
They did attempt to go for the win from the restart, but Clermont’s defence was too good as they forced a knock-on from the attacking team.
Meanwhile, Leigh Halfpenny kicked five penalties and a conversion for a 17-point haul in Toulon’s 22-18 win against Pau. Bayonne flyhalf Willie du Plessis kicked four penalties – two in the last 10 minutes – to snatch a 12-12 draw against Castres; La Rochelle edged Grenoble 22-19; Brive stunned Stade Français 28-20 despite conceding four yellow cards; Racing claimed a 29-16 bonus-point win over Lyon; and Toulouse ground out a 22-17 victory against Bordeaux.
Round 2 results:
Montpellier 22 Clermont 26
Pau 18 Toulon 22
Bayonne 12 Castres 12
La Rochelle 22 Grenoble 19
Brive 28 Stade Français 20
Racing 29 Lyon 16
Toulouse 22 Bordeaux 17
Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP Photo