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Clermont Auvergne

  • James,
    Penalty goals: James (6),
    Conversions: James,
25 - 19

Munster

  • Horan,
    Penalty goals: O'Gara (4),
    Conversions: O'Gara,

James keeps Clermont alive

Australian fly-half has a perfect game as Clermont beat champions

By Phil Jackson   Last updated: 8th December 2008   Subscribe to RSS Feed

James keeps Clermont alive

James: Perfect game

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Clermont Auvergne kept themselves in contention for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals with a 25-19 victory over holders Munster on Sunday.

Brock James rounded off a thrilling Heineken Cup weekend with 25 points, as the European champions were restricted to a losing bonus point at Stade Marcel Michelin for the second straight season.

Marcus Horan's try had put the Magners League leaders in control in the first half, but six penalty kicks from six and a converted try completed a perfect game for Australian fly-half James and ripped Pool One wide open.

Munster remain second behind Sale in the group, but they are now just a point above Clermont ahead of their return meeting in Ireland next weekend.

Intensity

It was a ferocious start at the Stade Marcel Michelin with a big hit by Munster skipper Paul O'Connell on Davit Zirakashvili setting the tone.

The visitors managed to restrict the powerful Clermont side to playing in midfield as a result, but an offside penalty allowed James to put the first points on the board.

Undeterred though, Barry Murphy made a good break as the champions showed their quality with ball in hand, and Doug Howlett's kick and chase minutes later led to the penalty that gave Ronan O'Gara the chance to level the scores at 3-3.

The winger's chase of Tomas O'Leary's up and under then led to a second penalty for failing to release the ball on the ground and O'Gara kicked his second penalty.

James kicked a penalty straight back after Seremaia Bai's powerful break but, despite their lack of possession, it was Munster who scored the game's first try.

O'Gara it was who shifted the ball right, following Alan Quinlan's break, and debutant Niall Ronan then found David Wallace before Horan showed great strength to hold off Anthony Floch and go over in the corner for a superb converted try that made it 13-6 to Munster.

Aurelien Rougerie's bone-shuddering tackle on Ian Dowling after the restart lifted the home side though and James kicked two more penalties either side of an O'Gara three to take the sides into the break with Munster leading 16-12.

Turnaround

But Clermont came out firing after the interval and forced Munster into yet more indiscipline to give James his fifth penalty kick of the match.

More problems were to follow for the visitors as Pierre Mignoni's superbly weighted dink kink forced a linout for the French on five metres.

From the resulting take and pressure, Mignoni fed that man James to go over for a finely-worked try. James kicked the conversion and Clermont had turned the game on its head in just seven minutes, forging their way into a 22-16 lead.

Clermont continued their pressure on the Munster line with Mignoni and James pulling the strings and the fly-half kicked his sixth penalty as the hosts, backed by a passionate home crowd, began to dominate in every area.

Benoit Baby's tackle on Keith Earls in the air did allow O'Gara to relieve some of the pressure but indiscipline continued to cost the champions, this time in the attacking third.

Clermont gave away a penalty of their own though to allow O'Gara to crucially reduce the deficit to six points.

And in spite of Lifeimi Mafi's forward pass that cost Munster what looked a certain try at the death, they have taken a bonus point from the 25-19 defeat despite being largely outplayed.

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Forthcoming European Rugby Champions Cup Fixtures
TimeFixture
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday 17th October
European Rugby Champions Cup
19:45Harlequins vs Castres
Saturday 18th October
13:00Sale vs Munster
15:15Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne
19:45Leicester vs Ulster
15:15Glasgow vs Bath
17:15Racing Metro 92 vs Northampton
Sunday 19th October
17:15Leinster vs Wasps
15:15Toulon vs Scarlets
13:00Toulouse vs Montpellier
13:00Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso
Friday 24th October
19:45Munster vs Saracens
Saturday 25th October
13:00Ulster vs Toulon
19:45Scarlets vs Leicester
15:15Bath vs Toulouse
17:15Montpellier vs Glasgow
17:15Northampton vs Ospreys
Sunday 26th October
15:15Clermont Auvergne vs Sale
14:00Castres vs Leinster
17:15Wasps vs Harlequins
17:15Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92
Saturday 6th December
TBCMunster vs Clermont Auvergne
TBCSale vs Saracens
TBCCastres vs Wasps
TBCHarlequins vs Leinster
TBCUlster vs Scarlets

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