Clermont fight back from 19-0 down to beat Bordeaux-Begles
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 27/03/16 6:07pm
Clermont staged a stunning fightback to beat Bordeaux-Begles 24-19 at the Stade Chaban-Delmas and reclaim their five-point lead at the summit of the Top 14.
Bordeaux had to make do with four Pierre Bernard penalties in the first half, but they finally broke down Clermont team through second row Berend Botha's try to move 19-0 ahead.
Alivereti Raka hit back quickly though for Clermont, and just three minutes later Patricio Fernandez converted his own score to make it a two-point game.
Wesley Fofana, in his first club match after returning from international duty, conjured up a well-taken try to seal a thrilling victory for Clermont.
Franck Azema's Clermont move five points clear of Toulon at the top of the Top 14 table, while Bordeaux's second home defeat of the season keeps them in fifth.
The visitors themselves have the best away record in the division, but Bordeaux started well and took the lead through two early Bernard penalties as Raphael Ibanez's men took advantage of territory gained by the forwards.
Bordeaux had to settle for three points again after Ole Avei had a try ruled out by the television referee, although they were given a boost when Clermont lock Sebastien Vahaamahina was sent to the sin bin.
The reliable right boot of fly-half Bernard duly made it 12-0 on the stroke of half-time.
With just two minutes to go until Vahaamahina could return to the fray, Botha burrowed over from a few metres out to put Bordeaux in total control, with Bernard adding the extras.
Argentine Fernandez finally got Clermont on the board with a long-range penalty, but just when they were looking like getting back into the game Scott Spedding also saw yellow.
But despite being down to 14 men Clermont showed why they are leading the way in France this season, as Fijian winger Raka found a gap to race through under the uprights, with Fernandez's conversion cutting the gap to nine points.
Suddenly Bordeaux were struggling despite their numerical advantage, and Fernandez barged over from close range to cap an excellent passage of play, with his following conversion dragging Clermont to within two.
Bordeaux managed to take the sting out of the game, until replacement prop Jean-Baptiste Poux became the third player in the match to see yellow, handing the momentum back to Clermont.
A flowing move ended with inside centre Fofana showing great skill to hold off two tackles and touch down, to complete a remarkable turnaround with nine minutes to play.