Toulouse proved too strong for a spirited Clermont side as they came out 21-12 winners in a tightly-contested Champions Cup quarter-final.
As the rain poured down in the opening quarter, the two sides exchanged penalties off of the boots of Romain Ntamack and Morgan Parra. Neither side were able to win any ascendency and defence dominated in the tricky conditions.
Toulouse, playing without regular flanker Rhynhard Elstadt struggled to make inroads up front. Clermont, playing predominantly off of Morgan Parra at scrumhalf, were similarly unable to open up any holes in Toulouse’s defence. The opening 40 minutes were a cagey affair all in all and it was all-square at half time, 6-6.
The match did little to open up in the second half. Toulouse, however, started to gain ascendency at the set piece and used their dominance at the scrum and line out to force penalties and control the game’s momentum.
Romain Ntamack added five second half penalties to put the result beyond the men in blue and yellow and seal Toulouse’s place in the Champions Cup semi-finals.
With the match entering its final quarter and Clermont only nine points adrift, the ball came loose after a Toulouse fumble and Clermont fullback Kotaro Matsushima found himself streaking up the wing with only one man to beat.
Cheslin Kolbe, the final covering defender, put in a textbook tackle on the flying Matsushima. Kolbe, who was unusually subdued in the match, made a telling intervention with this tackle, saving a certain try.
Penalties: Parra (4)
Penalties: Ntamack (7)