Challenge Cup: Clermont v Edinburgh: visitors leave themselves too much of a mountain to climb

Sean Everitt's side hand hosts a 17 point head-start

Edinburgh came up short away to Clermont in their Challenge Cup opener.
Edinburgh came up short away to Clermont in their Challenge Cup opener.

Clermont 31

Edinburgh 18

IT was always going to be a tough task against French giants Clermont in their own back yard, but Edinburgh will rue a missed tackle here, a cheap penalty there, or a sloppy kick at a key moment, in a game they could have taken an unlikely point from.

Accurate kick-tennis and solid breakdown play had meant few chances in the first quarter, but the home side turned things their way when George Moala skipped past Robin Hislop to score after a bruising Clermont maul.

Hislop then conceded a scrum penalty which the suave Anthony Belleau smacked into the corner, to set up the line-out from which Clermont executed the one-strike play that left Harry Paterson – who had shot out the line – grasping at thin air as Alex Newsome ran in.

Champions Cup: Glasgow v Northampton: Warriors well beaten

Premiership preview for Saturday 9th December: runners, riders and verdict

Premiership preview for Saturday 9th December: runners, riders and verdict

Belleau converted and then fired home a hands in the ruck penalty which made it 17-0 with just three minutes left in the half, but Edinburgh managed to salvage something from the opening period when Jamie Hodgson’s Doddie-esque dummy and burst through the middle led to an offside, which handed Tim Swiel an easy three-pointer to get visiting side of the scoreboard rolling.

Edinburgh then hauled themselves right back into it early in the second period, and started to worry the previously raucous home support, when Javan Sebastian bundled over from close range off a Bill Mata pass, following some powerful build-up play from Hamish Watson and Chris Dean.  Swiel converted to make it 17-10.

While Paterson had seen a lot of ball – in the air, or in the hands of someone running at him – on the right wing, the wrecking ball sometimes referred to as Duhan van der Merwe on the other touchline had barely seen any action during the first 50 minutes … but that was about to change.

He chased and rag-dolled Bautista Delguy, forcing a penalty which was kicked to the corner, and while Clermont managed to disrupt the line-out to palm the ball back into their own in-goal, Moala was hauled down, only for the five-metre scrum to be denied because of an apparent infringement on Clermont lock Rob Simmons at the line-out.

Clermont’s reprieve didn’t last too long, however, as Tomas Lavanini was penalised for a high tackle – the only surprise being that Lavanini hadn’t done enough to earn a card – and Cameron Scott kicked Edinburgh back to a one-score game.

Suddenly, an unlikely win on the road seemed to be within Edinburgh’s grasp, but the class of Clermont’s replacements soon stopped that thought.

Newsome scored a wonderful second try of the night after a flowing move involving half-back subs Baptiste Jauneau and Jules Plisson, then Daniel Bibi Bizizwu struck the killer punch from a maul, before Wes Goosen’s consolation try finished the scoring.

The match ended with Clermont back on top, and Delguy was denied another try as he failed to ground with the last touch of the match.


Teams –

Clermont: A Newsome; B Delguy, J Heriteau, G Moala, T Roziere; A Belleau, S Bezy; E Falgoux, F Fainga’a, C Ojovan, R Simmons, T Lavanini, L Dessaigne, P Yato, P Gus Sowakula. Substitutes: Y Beheregaray, D Bibi Biziwu, H Kiteau, F Lee, K Tixeront, B Jauneau, J Plisson, P Fouyssac

Edinburgh: T Swiel; H Paterson,  M Bennett, C Dean, D van der Merwe; C Scott, B Vellacott©; R Hislop, E Ashman, J Sebastian, M Sykes, J Hodgson, L Crosbie, H Watson, V Mata. Substitutes: A McBurney, B Venter, A Williams, G Young, C Boyle, C Shiel, M Currie, W Goosen

Referee: Ben Whitehouse


Scorers –

Clermont: Tries: Moala, Newsome 2, Biziwu; Cons: Bellaue 4; Pens: Bellaue.

Edinburgh: Tries: Sebastian, Goosen; Cons: Swiel; Pens: Swiel, Scott.

Scoring sequence (Clermont first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 17-0; 17-3 (h-t) 17-8; 17-10; 17-13; 22-13; 24-13; 29-13; 31-13; 31-18.

Premiership preview for Saturday 9th December: runners, riders and verdict


  1. I think it is the right thing to target the URC rather than the Challenge Cup, but it is disappointing that we don’t have the strength in depth needed to be more competitive when we are not playing our first 15/23.

  2. As soon as you saw the selection you knew this was not the focus for Edinburgh – we don’t have the strength in depth to field a B team and win against anyone but the weakest teams in the URC

  3. The more I see of this full bench changing malarkee the less I like it… and with Bennett finishing off the kicking duties… fingers crossed on the injury list on Monday 🙏

  4. Good game up to the point Clermont brought on their replacements. Whole tempo changed at that point and we could not cope. Still we nearly stopped them getting the bonus point!

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