Ospreys overturn half-time deficit to record 21-13 win against Clermont
Wesley Fofana’s try plus eight points from Morgan Parra gave the French visitors a 13-6 lead at the break
Clermont flanker Vito Kolelishvili pushed referee Wayne Barnes
Ospreys Dan Biggar and visitors David Strettle limp off early in the second period
Sam Davies 15-point haul in the second half sees the Welsh region come from behind for the win
Replacement kicker Sam Davies proved to be the hero for Ospreys as his 15-point haul saw them come from behind to overcome Clermont 21-13 in their crucial European Champions Cup clash at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night.
A grafting, hard-knuckled performance from Clermont in the first half meant the French visitors took a 13-6 lead into the break with Wesley Fofana’s try combined with eight points from the tee via Morgan Parra making up their total. Dan Biggar’s two penalties kept the Welsh region in the match but his two missed attempts summed up what had been a frustrating first half for the hosts.
It was the visitors flanker Vito Kolelishvili though who stole the show in the opening 40 and the beginning of the second for all the wrong reasons. The Georgian back-rower pushed the referee, scuffled with Alan Wyn Jones and put in a late tackle after the restart, conceding five penalties and spending 10 minutes in the bin before being replaced. He was extremely fortuitous not to see red. However, further punishment for his antics will surely come about early next week.
Clermont lost David Strettle early in the second half before Ospreys received just a bigger blow as Biggar limped off with a dead leg to be replaced by Davies, who kicked the first points of the second half from the tee just shy of the hour before slotting a drop-goal soon after to set up a grandstand finish, 12-13.
Davies, on his European debut, then held his nerve to give the hosts the lead the frist time from the tee following yet another Clermont yellow card, with John Ulugia being sent to the bin for deliberate offside. The replacement kicker then kept his composure to slot another pair of penalties to ensure the visitors headed back across the channel with nothing.
The win puts Ospreys at the top of Pool 2, but they need to beat Exeter at Sandy Park if they want to guarantee a place in the quarter-finals. Clermont on the other hand could still qualify, but will rue a night of missed chances.
All five of the team’s previous meetings had gone the way of the home team, but it was Clermont who started the better with Camille Lopez dummying before offloading superbly to Fofana, with the French international centre diving over to the left of the posts for the opening try after six minutes. Parra then added the simple conversion to give the visitors a seven-point lead.
Ospreys though hauled themselves back into the game with Biggar, who had taken a knock after just two minutes, knocking over a pair of penalty’s to leave the game in the balance after 17 minutes, 7-6.
Parra though responded with a three-pointer of his own to edge Clermont four points ahead.
This visitors though lost Kolelishvili, who had already been warned for pushing the referee, soon after as the flanker saw yellow for an overreaction against Wyn Jones. To the Osprey locks credit, he had pleaded with Wayne Barnes not to send the Georgian to the bin, but the referee’s mind was made up.
Biggar then had a chance to reduce the deficit but his effort from a testing distance and angle cannoned off the post and despite a glorious try-scoring opportunity presenting itself to Eli Walker, he was unable to take advantage.
Clermont, back up to their full compliment, actually extended their lead with Parra slotting another penalty, giving the French visitors a 13-16 lead at half-time.
The second half started poorly though for the away side as Parra dragged a penalty attempt wide before they lost star winger Strettle to a suspected ankle injury. Things were no better for Ospreys though as star man Biggar limped off with a dead leg from the same incident.
Kolelishvili was then once again singled out, this time for a late hit and Barnes tells him that’s his final warning. The all-action, often undisciplined back-rower was then replaced before his saw red, but he will likely be in trouble post match for some of his shenanigans, especially in the first half.
Sam Davies, off the bench to take over kicking duties from the injured Biggar, finally got the second half’s scoring underway with a well-struck penalty just shy of the hour before adding a drop-goal soon after to bring the hosts back within one point, 12-13.
Davies then held his nerve to give the hosts the lead the frist time from the tee following yet another Clermont yellow card, with John Ulugia being sent to the bin for deliberate offside.
As conditions worsened, Clermont began to overplay and the Ospreys took advantage with their stand-off adding successive three-pointers late on to seal the win, 21-13.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ospreys: Sam Davies
Davies, off the bench, for his European debut, was simply sensational all over the pitch to control the game while his accurate goalkicking secured the win in what was a spectacular comeback. Sam Underhill, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric were also fantastic throughout.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Underhill, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Owen Watkin
Clermont: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 David Strettle, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Vito Kolelishvili, 6 Damien Chouly, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Loïc Jacquet, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphael Chaume.
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Michael Simutoga, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Camille Gerondeau, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic, 22 Brock James, 23 Albert Vulivuli
Date: Friday, January 15
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Peter Allan (England)
TMO: Sean Davey (England)