Clermont Auvergne v Ulster

Les Kiss's side face a tough task as they look to back up last week's win over the French giants

Johnny Watterson Sun, Dec 18
LIVE: Clermont Auvergne v Ulster

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  • Good afternoon to the fourth Irish match of the weekend where Ulster hope to boost their chances in the European Champions Cup. Johnny Watterson will be relaying all the action for the next few hours.
    Ulster travel to the cauldron of Stade Marcel Michelin for their round 4 fixture with just one change to the side that won last week in Belfast. Diack is injured so he is replaced by van der Merwe in the second row. Other than that it is as is.
    Scarlets have just beaten Toulon by a point hold on tight for Clermont v Ulster - 3.05 start Irish Time
  • CLERMONT AUVERGNE: Isaia Toeava; Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Wesley Fofana, Nick Abendanon; Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra; Etienne Falgoux, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Arthur Iturria, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Viktor Kolelishvili, Alexandre Lapandry, Damien Chouly (capt).

    Replacements: John Ulugia, Thomas Domingo, Mickael Simutoga, Flip van der Merwe, Peceli Yato, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Pato Fernandez, Aurelien Rougerie.

    ULSTER: Charles Piutau; Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Kyle McCall, Rory Best (capt), Wiehahn Herbst, Peter Browne, Franco van der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy.

    Replacements: Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Darren Cave, Jacob Stockdale.

    Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
    Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini, Simone Boaretto (both Italy)
    Television Match Official: Stefano Penne (Italy)
  • We're looking for Tommy Bowe to get his hands on a bit more ball today He felt okay after last week in Kingspan Stadium but needs more to push on for Irish selection.
    "After the win in Belfast, it was the happiest I've been in a long time," said Bowe. "The European games are the ones you really miss. After two years with injuries there has been a lot of hard work put in, and to be in a dressing room with that sort of atmosphere certainly made it seem all worthwhile."
  • The teams are out on the pitch Mitrea blows his whistle. Ulster kick off.
  • First lineout to Clermont...They secure it and fling it out wide. Fullback Toeava comes blazing in at a wonderful angle, breaks the gain line and side steps Ulster defender coming across. What a run for his first touch of the match. TRY Clermont after two minutes and converted. Ulster stunned by the early strike.
  • Clermont are hitting Ulster hard. Ulster mount their first sustained attack inside the Clermont 22 but untidy pass from Luke Marshall to Ludik after half a dozen phases and its turned over.
  • Aggressive opening and Ulster in Clermont faces. But they are sliding off tackles and Clermont making ground. Outhalf Lopez cross field kicks but Abendanon wasn't in on the plan and the ball goes into touch.
  • Clermont are certainly showing more interest in this game than Toulon did against Scarlets...
  • The Ulster scrum is holding up well. The breakdown is a battle ground. No team -after the frantic first few minutes and early try - holding territory.
  • Jackson hoits a high one but it goes straight out and pulled back to inside Ulster half. Another lineout platform?
  • Ulster defence is s good and committed. But they are under pressure to make every tackle. Morgan Para looking around like the little general he is...
  • 20 mins -Piutau fields a nice high ball but hands it back with sloppy pass. Lopez punches through the middle. Ulster are sucked in and Clerman have a one man advantage out left and they quickly feed the ball out with Abendanon all alone and taking it high but crashing over. TRY and Lopez converts for 14-0.
  • OK Ulster are in a hole. Everything is going right for Clermont and whenever they get into space they look dangerous. Ulster are too easily being stripped of the ball. Piutau absolutely at fault for the last try having secured possession and then misplacing his pass.
  • 25 mins -Henderson gets his entry to the ruck wrong in Clermont 22.. Lopez kicks the penalty way up field. Ulster in trouble again. The referee's arm is out so there's a penalty against Ulster.
    No need. Lopez crossfield kicks and Abendanon is in miles of space. The Lopez punt lands on a dime and the English player streaks in for his second TRY and Clermont's third TRY of the match. They are running riot. The French outhalf converts.
  • Van der Merwe spills the ball in a tackle. Can't do that. Not now.
  • Pressure at every point on the Ulster team. In the break down and out wide when Clermont decise to play that game. They are very dangerous in broken play. Ulster are turning over too much ball and fire fighting around the pitch. No momentum either.
  • 31 mins That's Parra taking the place kicks not Lopez. He has another look up and looks down. Its straight forward but the scrumhalf pulls the ball right and it's a miss. That's Ulster's first break. Still 21-0 to Clermont.
  • Clermont lineout in Ulster 22. Not sure why Ludik looked good with his high ball catch away from the touchline. Clermont secure the ball but there's a knock on. Ulster scrum.
  • Official time for Clermont's first try was 58 seconds and Ulster have not recovered with just three minutes to half time. This half has gone really fast, Ulster largely scrambling for ball and looking forward to a break and to regroup. But recovering from being 21 points down is a mountainous task.
  • McCloskey drives at Lopez in a mismatch. The ball is picked up and driven forward by the pack and the referee's hand goes up for an Ulster scrum.
    Clermont wheel the scrum. The referee gives Ulster a penalty but they opt for another 5 yard scrum. This is their last play of the half.
    That gambol does not pay off and the referee blows for another penalty, this time for the home side. The ball is kicked out.
  • It would be nice to think Ulster can come out a new team and be faster, more physicall and accurate but they have shown no real flashes at all with the Englishman abroad Nick Abendanon grabbing two first half tries. Ulster have had six handling errors although it seems like more than that.
    Where would you think the next push will come from, Ulster to get into the match or Clermont for a fourth try and bonus point?
  • The Clermont backrow Viktor Kolelishvili, Alexandre Lapandry, and captain Damien Chouly are having a cracking game. The Ulster pack have been beaten up and that's where a lot of the Irish problems are stemming from.
  • "They start fast. We knew they probably would," says former Ulster fullback Bryn Cunningham understating it. "It's about keeping possession," he adds. True Ulster have seen precious little of that.
  • Second half begins.
  • 42 mins - Lopez streaks the length of the pitch less than two minutes into the half. It's an intercept as Ulster prss up. Brilliantly times by the outhalf and Rory Best is not the man you want in a foot race. Pienaar is in the chase as well but Lopez is home and dry all of 80 yards
    It is the worst possible start for Ulster and is Clermont's bonus point. Parra converts.
  • This could become the stage for some champagne rugby from Clermont if Ulster are not careful.
  • 48 mins -Pienaar kicks a high one from his own 22. Frustrated look on his face and the kick doesn't take Ulster out of trouble. It is a scrum on their 22 as crowd do Mexican wave. Ulster put in.
  • Ulster getting their hands on the ball now. But territorially they are no threat and have Ulster contained. There's a lack of urgency from the French now they have the bonus point and are coacting towards a home quarterfinal.
  • 55 MINS -Clermont are taking the P*** and try to play it from behind their own posts. Ulster react and turn over the bal... a threaded kick through for Sean Reidy and he slides in...but no Abendanon is there and hold the ball up. No try for Ulster says the TMO after the referee asks him to review.
    Still CLERMONT 28 ULSTER 0
  • 57 mins - Finally Ulster get one back. Tommy Bowe takes a long skip pass from a scrum just under the French posts. Clermont asleep. It's like they said okay lads let them back into this and make a match of it. Converted.
    Rougerie comes into the game for Clermont
  • 62 MINS - Clermont are giving Ulster time and space to fling the ball around. It is a complete change of tempo and aggression from the home side.
    Ulster lineout close to the French line. Herring in possession. Driving maul from Ulster. They push Clermont over their line and a steaming pile of bodies fall.
    Is there any reason I can't award the try, asks the referee.
    The TMO says yes you may award the try.
    Jackson converts. Game on....Maybe?
  • 66 mins -Piutau bolts up the line. Clermont scramble across.but Abendanon knocks on coming into the tackle.
    Marshall comes in for Pienaar at scrumhalf. He will bring up the pace.
    Mc Closkey charges down the number 10 channel and makes ground. The ball is flung out on the short side and it's Bowe again stemming in for his second try. Where is the Clermont defence? The answer is nowhere.
    Jackson misses conversion
  • 70 mins -Okay so this match has turned around. It is still a nine point match but there is a glimmer of hope here. But a penalty for Clermont will be kicked and that will eat up some time.
    Lopez obliges.
  • Last 10 minutes. Ulster are working it up field going through phases, something they did not do in the first hour.
    Bowe goes off. He does not look too happy.
  • 74 mins -Clermont have the ball. It is up the jumper stukk - sensible play from the French. But it is kicked away and Ulster counter thru Ludik. He is brought down at the hallway line and it is turned over. Rougerie in possession breaks and kicks ahead. Its a foot race against Marshall and while he gets to the ball it bounces out before his hand can get there. Lucky Ulster
  • 76 mins - Clermont have gathered themselves again and have the ball and are playing in the Ulster half. That is all it will take from here to win as the clock tiks down.
  • 78 mins -Paddy Jackson shoots out and swats the ball away as Clermont press on the Ulster line. Clermont throw their hands in the air and so they should.
    The referee takes out the yellow card and Jackson leaves the pitch but the referee also gives a penalty try. Lopez kicks the conversion.
    So that's that.
  • A Clermont scrum in the centre of the field. The ball comes out and Lopez boots it into the crowd. The match is over.
    Clermont 38 ULSTER 19
    Ulster are third in the group behind Bordeaux and Clermont (same points inferior points difference). who top the pool on 17 points.
  • Well Ulster are in a pickle now. Clermont have the pool under command. Ulster have 9 points, the same as Ian Madigan's club Bordeaux and Clermont 17 points.
  • That is it from the south of France. Ulster will go home after a shellshocking first half, where there was really no way back. It's the xmas interprivincials up next but plenty now for Les Kiss to contemplate throughout next week.
    "We knew coming here they'd start well," said Rory Best. "We gave them an early try and then a couple of mistakes we gave them more tries. If you give them access they are going to come back. We talked at half time about trying to own the second half.
    "We should have pushed on looking for a losing bonus point, that fourth try. Massively disappointed. We know if we can finish strong we can be in the shake up but for the moment massively disappointed."

    Final score again
    Clermont 38 Ulster 19