Heineken Cup Pool 4: Harlequins salvage bonus point from defeat at Clermont Auvergne
Harlequins suffered their second defeat in a row in Pool 4 of the Heineken Cup, going down 23-16 to Clermont in France.
Last Updated: 21/10/13 8:46am
The French side stretched their unbeaten home record to 65 matches thanks to first-half tries from Lee Byrne, Wesley Fofana and Thierry Lacrampe.
Harlequins scored a solitary try just before half-time through Tom Williams and at least managed to secure a losing bonus point thanks to Nick Evans' late drop goal.
However, the result leaves the English club bottom of Pool 4 after losing at home to the Scarlets last week, while Clermont sit in third, a point behind the Scarlets and Racing Metro.
Full-back Byrne scored the opening try in the left corner after the Harlequins defence had been worn down by phase after phase of Clermont attacks. Brock James hit the post with his conversion attempt from the touchline.
Harlequins got on the board with a penalty but Clermont continued to look dangerous every time the ball went wide to their back division.
The pressure soon told; centre Fofana crossed on a return pass from James for the French side's second try and scrum-half Lacrampe added a third five minutes later from Byrne's back-of-the-hand offload.
James' conversion made it 20-6 to Clermont, only for Harlequins to be offered a route back into the match when Byrne was sin-binned for the latest in a series of team infringements at the breakdown.
Harlequins failed to add any points while they had the extra man but did finish the half with a try, a simple finish for Williams coming after full-back Mike Brown drew two tacklers and freed his hands to get the pass away. Evans' touchline conversion reduced Harlequins' deficit to 20-13 at the break.
James padded Clermont's advantage to 10 points with a penalty in the 45th minute and, as the pace of the game began to tell on both sets of players, a raft of replacements disrupted the flow.
Clermont were happy to turn down several kickable penalties in search of the four-try bonus-point.
But they came up empty handed and Evans had the final say for Harlequins with a drop goal that cut the final margin to seven points, just enough for a losing bonus point.