Clermont 42-10 Exeter: Jonathan Davies makes a try-scoring return as Chiefs’ crash back down to earth with heavy defeat in France
Tries from David Strettle and Alexandre Lapandry gave Clermont a 21-3 lead at half-time
The hosts Camille Lopez and Chiefs Thomas Waldrom spent time in the sin bin during the opening 40
Fritz Lee and Sébastian Vahaamahina scored five-pointers fro Clermont after the break to secure the bonus-point before Jonathan Davies capped his return with a try
Clermont were reduced to 13 men for the last ten minutes after two quickfire yellow cards to Vito Kolelishvili and Clément Ric
Tom Johnson scored a late consolation try for Chiefs
Jonathan Davies marked his first appearance of the season with a try as Clermont avenged their shock defeat at Sandy Park a week ago with a thumping 42-10 success against Exeter on home turf.
Exeter came from behind to record a first ever victory against Clermont, but they had lost six of their eight trips to France in European competition heading into the fixture and those struggles continued.
Things had started well initially for the visitors as Gareth Steenson opened the scoring from the tee for Exeter in the second minute after Camille Lopez was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle after just two minutes.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors as from then on in the opening 40 was all Clermont with tries from David Strettle and Alexandre Lapandry added to three penalties and a conversion giving the home side a convincing 21-3 advantage heading into half-time.
Further five pointers from Fritz Lee and Sébastian Vahaamahina secured te bonus point for Clermont before Davies on his return dived over like he had never been away for the hosts fifth try.
The home side though were reduced to 13 men for the last ten minutes after two quickfire yellow cards to Vito Kolelishvili and Clément Ric for both collapsing Exeter’s rolling maul on separate occasions.
Tom Johnson then crossed for a late consolation for Exeter but it did little to the scoreline with Clermont holding on for the comfortable victory.
The bonus-point win means Clermont are level with Exeter on 10 points in Pool Two, although the French side have a game in hand. Welsh region Ospreys occupy the top spot and automatic qualification place in the group after earning two bonus points in their defeat by Bordeaux-Begles yesterday.
Things got off to the worst possible start for Clermont as the hosts were reduced to 14 men after just two minutes following a dangerous tackle from Lopez, who was justifiably sent off for 10 minutes.
Steenson slotted the resulting penalty to give the Chiefs the lead but two quickfire penalties from Morgan Parra and Scott Spedding meant the 14 men of Clermont a three-point advantage, 6-3.
Clermont, still being a man down, continued to turn the screw and opened the try-scoring with ten minutes gone through Strettle, who burned past James Short by cutting inside to dive between the posts for an excellent try.
Parra then added the simple conversion to give the French hosts a ten-point lead, 13-3.
The hosts sheer physicality and drive meant they continued to put pressure on the Exeter defence, but they only came away with another three points via Parra from the tee to open up a 13-point gap with 18 minutes gone.
Things then went from bad to worse for Exeter as they lost Thomas Waldrom after 35 minutes for going in off his feet, which he had already previously been warned about from the referee.
It took just one minute the extra man to pay dividends for Clermont with Alexandre Lapandry racing in for the hosts second try. The hosts roared forward with a driving maul before Parra peeled off around the blindside to offload to the flanker, who dived over in the corner.
Parra was unable to add the difficult touchline conversion but the hosts held a comfortable 21-3 lead heading into half-time.
Clermont took just three minutes to edge even further in front after the restart as their distinguished lineout drive bulldozed through Exeter’s defence. Canadian international Jamie Cudmore received the lineout before following the shove Lee dotted the ball down for the hosts third try. Parra then added the conversion, 28-3.
The home side then secured the bonus point through Vahaamahina, who initially appeared to have fallen short but following a trip to the TMO the score was awarded although it was still difficult to make out whether he had in fact got the ball down.
This time, Lopez stepped up to add the extras to open up an uncatchable 32-point lead for the hosts with 49 minutes gone.
Davies then added the hosts fifth just after the hour mark as the centre collected a delicious cross-field kick from Lopez to dive over in the corner. Parra then added another two points for the hosts from the tee, 42-3
Clermont though were reduced to 13 men for the last ten minutes after two quickfire yellow cards to Vito Kolelishvili and Clément Ric for both collapsing Exeter’s rolling maul on separate occasions.
With the two-man advantage, Tom Johnson was driven to the line and he managed to force the ball down and Will Hooley added the conversion but it was already game over, 42-10.
Clermont: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 David Strettle, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hosea Gear, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Vito Kolelishvili, 5 Sébastian Vahaamahina, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Clément Ric, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic, 22 Pato Fernandez, 23 Albert Vulivuli
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Jack Nowell, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Carl Rimmer
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Moray Low, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Michele Campanaro
Date: Sunday, December 20
Venue: Stade Marcel Michelin
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Stefano Pennè (Italy), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)