Stuart McCloskey is tackled by Peceli Yato. Manuel Blondeau/INPHO

Ulster crash out of Challenge Cup after dominant display by Clermont

Richie Murphy’s side were unable to live with Clermont’s physicality and failed to register any points after half-time.

Clermont 53

Ulster 14

ULSTER CRASHED OUT of the European Challenge Cup after a second-half obliteration against Clermont who registered 33 unanswered points against the struggling province.

Clermont, who scored seven tries – the dominant Peceli Yato and Pita Gus Sowakula both claiming braces – now progress to face the Sharks in the semi-final.

Richie Murphy’s side were unable to live with Clermont’s superior power and physicality and failed to register any points after half-time when they trailed 20-14, Nick Timoney having scored twice for the visitors.

After resisting some early pressure, Ulster got things moving when opting to tap and go from a penalty under the Clermont sticks.

Though a bit messy, Nick Timoney got the ball and though Clermont had stripped the ball slightly earlier, the number eight pounced to score. John Cooney added the two points after 12 minutes of play.

nick-timoney-competes-for-the-ball Nick Timoney competes for the ball. Manuel Blondeau / INPHO Manuel Blondeau / INPHO / INPHO

Six minutes later the home team responded in kind, Baptiste Jauneau racing down the short side of a lineout before Sowakula provided soft hands and Yato broke one tackle to run through and score.

Anthony Belleau’s conversion tied the contest.

Just before the half hour, Belleau nudged Clermont in front with a penalty and increased their lead to 13-7 four minutes later after Baloucoune was penalised for a block on Aliveriti Raka.

It then got worse for Ulster as a penalty – following a turnover which Raka ran back – was put to the corner and from the lineout Léon Darricarrere charged straight through Doak and Sowakula smashed through to touch down.

Belleau again converted and Ulster were in trouble.

Then with the clock in red, Clermont instead of getting the ball off the park were penalised and with Ulster turning down the three points for the corner, Timoney bulldozed over with Cooney’s excellent conversion making it 20-14 at the break.

Clermont had the opening chance on the restart – Ulster’s skipper Iain Henderson did not return for the new half – but Belleau missed from the tee.

They rapidly made up for it when Alex Newsome sprinted clear down the flank after Raka and Jauneau had combined.

Belleau’s excellent conversion took Clermont’s to 27-14.

After a period of chaotic play – during which Ulster also lost Timoney and Steven Kitshoff to injury – Belleau opted for a long-range drop goal which went wide.

But Clermont came again and from a penalty to the corner, an unstoppable maul saw Sowakula claim his second, Belleau again converting which he did once more when Rob Simmons crashed through off a lineout turnover.

Yato scored his second on 68 minutes, Sebastien Bezy converting and in the final minute Joris Jurand made it seven tries for Clermont.


Clermont: A Newsome, B Delguy, L Darricarrere, J Heriteau, A Raka, A Belleau, B Jauneau (capt); G Beria, Y Beheregaray, R Slimani, T Lanen, T Lavanini; K Tixeront, P Yato, P- G Sowakula.

Replacements: E Fourcade for Beheregaray 50mins , D-B Biziwu for Beria 53mins, G Dzmanashvili for Slimani 53mins, R Simmons for Lanen 54mins, A Fischer for Tixeront 49mins, S Bezy for Jauneau 55mins, T Giral for Lavanini  67mins, J Jurand for Raka 67mins.


Ulster: S Moore, R Baloucoune, J Hume, S McCloskey, M Lowry, N Doak, J Cooney; S Kitshoff, R Herring, T O’Toole, A O’Connor, I Henderson (capt), H Sheridan, David McCann, N Timoney.

Replacements: T Stewart for Herring 41mins, A Warwick for Kitshoff 55mins, S Wilson for O’Toole 51mins, C Izuchukwu for O’Connor 64mins, D Ewers for Henderson 42mins, E McIlroy for Moore 5 mins, Marcus Rea for Timoney 54mins. Unused J Flannery.

Ref: C Ridley (England)

Michael Sadlier
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