Clermont Auvergne put on a scintillating display to come away with a 52-26 win over Bath Rugby, with the visitors being the only side to score four tries against last season’s Challenge Cup winners at the Stade Marcel-Michelin this season.
The Yellow Army were well supported in a packed-out Stade Marcel-Michelin, as the French crowd spurred their side on to score eight tries, with Bath Rugby claiming a bonus-point which provided an unbelievable stage for Round 4 of the Heineken Champions Cup.
The hosts who are unbeaten by an English team at the Stade Marcel-Michelin since 2008, took just four minutes to put their first score on the board. Clermont put together a well-constructed maul which set up the platform for a powerful peeling run from Hooker John Ulugia, who proved too much for Bath’s defensive line from close range. Morgan Parra added the extras and it was evident the impact of what the yellow army have on their side. [7-0]
Just six minutes later, Clermont scored their second from International centre David Penaud who went over in the corner after evading two defenders. Clermont fired the ball down the blind side as Penaud finished well from the move. Parra nailed the ball through the sticks to extend the score. [14-0]
Clermont continued to fire on all cylinders as the Bath defence found it hard to contain them. The physical side were dominating the breakdown and it took just four more minutes before they scored their third. Alvereti Raka went over after Ben Whitehouse played advantage to the hosts following a brilliant kick from Lopez. The powerful wing did not need a second invitation and leapt higher than Freddie Burns to catch the ball, dotting it down by his feet. Parra kept his record clean and made it 21-0 with under 15 minutes of the half passed. [21-0]
The hosts were causing havoc and with 20 minutes on the clock the Stade Marcel-Michelin erupted again when Clermont collected their four try-bonus point. After three reset scrums George Moala dived over in the corner following a swift move from the backs. Their kick sailed marginally wide. [26-0]
Clermont were baying for blood but the visitors finally made their first score at 24 minutes. Jack Walker went over after a strong set piece and an even stronger maul. A solid bit of scrummaging got Bath off the mark. Freddie Burns added the extras. [26-7]
The French side were dominating and with just 29 minutes passed Raka worked his magic and went over again. The giant wing crashed on to the ball in the try area after a brilliant grubber kick by Parra gave him the opportunity. [33-7]
At 32 minutes, the hosts earnt their sixth to the delight of their 19,000 strong army of support. A length of the field run from Clermont saw Moala crash through the standing defensive line. Parra converted. [40-7]
Bath found some relief just before the teams went in for half time talks as Ruaridh McConnochie went over under the sticks after a strong phase of play by the Clermont line. Chris Cook shipped the ball wide to catch the hosts off guard and McConnochie went through untouched. Burns added the extras as the clock stopped. [40-14]
HALF TIME – CLERMONT AUVERGNE 40 – 14 BATH RUGBY
The teams ran back out and it took just four minutes for Clermont to capitalise on their next set of points. Their seventh try of the game was found by Camille Lopez following a tap and go. Parra continued to add further to their long line of scores. [45-14]
Bath responded well five minutes later when Tom Dunn crashed over following another strong set piece. The forwards used a solid driving maul to go over at close-range for their third try of the game. Burns sliced his effort through the centre of the uprights. [45-21]
At 58 minutes Clermont were awarded a penalty for a hostile interaction between Elliot Stooke and Parra. The hosts kicked to the corner but were brought into touch by the Bath defence following the line out.
Bath were managing to slow the Clermont’s rampant attack in the second-half and it wasn’t until 72 minutes when the next points were scored. A powerful maul five meters from the Clermont line gave Josh Bayliss the chance to drive over the whitewash at close-range. The fourth try gave Bath a bonus-point but the conversion by Burns hit the posts. [45-26]
Clermont were unrelenting and with four minutes left to go of the game they did it again. This time McIntyre found the score, following a superb display from Raka and Penaud. Laidlaw converted. [52-26]
Bath came away defeated by a superior Clermont in a 12-try encounter at the Stade Marcel Michelin. The first-half display was not good enough for the Blue, Black and White who made error upon error giving a massively powerful Clermont the opportunity to get ahead of the game. The second-half display changed the pace of the game and Bath were able to capitalise on more moments and opportunities, but it wasn’t enough as Clermont Auvergne sealed a result at the Stade Marcel-Michelin
Bath Rugby travel to face London Irish before Christmas on Sunday 22nd December in the Gallagher Premiership.