Clermont 24-7 Ospreys: Steve Tandy's side suffer Champions Cup exit in France
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 20/01/18 5:27pm
Tries from Nick Abendanon and Luke McAlister, alongside a magnificent kicking display from man-of-the-match Morgan Parra, saw Clermont record a 24-7 victory over the Ospreys to confirm quarter-final progression.
The defeat means the Ospreys are eliminated from the Champions Cup and cannot progress to the knockout stages.
Centre Ashley Beck had given the Welsh side hope when he scored with 20 minutes remaining to reduce the deficit to six points.
But Parra's deadly boot, along with a late try for McAlister, confirmed victory and a home quarter-final for the Top 14 outfit.
Clermont thought they had hit the front after just seven minutes after a fast-paced move up the left flank had seen winger Remy Grosso touch down in the corner.
On review with his TMO, however, referee JP Doyle deduced that Grosso's foot had just slid into touch before the grounding in a mightily-tight decision.
Clermont kept the pressure up on the Ospreys but the away side did superbly to turn over a Clermont attacking maul, as No 8 Rob McCusker fought his way through the middle to get his hands on the ball.
A penalty won by the Ospreys at the resultant scrum saw them kick clear and relieve the pressure.
On 26 minutes, Clermont did hit the front through Abendanon after Parra put in an inch-perfect kick over the top for the Englishman to dive on.
With eight minutes of the first half remaining, Parra extended the lead to 10-0 courtesy of a superb long-range penalty strike after the Ospreys had been pinged for a high tackle on Peceli Yato.
With a couple of minutes remaining of the first half, Clermont extended the lead even further via another penalty as Parra effortlessly struck over another super effort after a decision won at the scrum.
Just before the break, Dan Biggar looked to get the Osprteys on the board with a penalty of his own from 45 metres out after Clermont were penalised for offside, but his effort just sailed wide, leaving it 13-0 at the break.
Ospreys started the second half far better, and four minutes in were camped on the Clermont tryline following a big Alun-Wyn Jones carry, until Jeff Hassler knocked on as he was running through.
Five minutes later and the Ospreys wasted another huge chance as a five-metre attacking lineout under the Clermont posts was knocked on by scrum-half Rhys Webb at the base under pressure from Parra.
Further repeated forays into the Clermont 22 saw the Ospreys repeatedly cough up the ball as a sense of control deserted them.
On 57 minutes, the Ospreys passed up their clearest opening of the game until that point as centre Owen Watkin made an incisive break but was somehow stopped just short, before Abendanon turned the ball over on his own tryline in an incredible piece of play.
Three minutes later and the Ospreys finally registered the try they deserved as Beck slid over in the corner and, when Biggar slapped over a brilliant conversion, it was a six-point game.
Two crucial penalties, one another outstanding long-range effort from Parra and another the first involvement of Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw on his return from injury, put Clermont back into the ascendency.
In the final minute of the match, flanker Yato won a turnover at the breakdown before Peter Betham made a quick break and McAlister picked up a Grosso tip on to dive over and ensure a home quarter-final.