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PREVIEW: Jones ready for Clermont test

Wednesday 18th November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Three-time winners Leinster begin their quest to reclaim the Heineken Cup with a tricky away clash against the Ospreys in Pool 1. - 08/10/2013 10:59

Three-time winners Leinster begin their quest to reclaim the Heineken Cup with a tricky away clash against the Ospreys in Pool 1. - 08/10/2013 10:59

Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones reckons his men can face Clermont Auvergne with confidence as they look to end one of the most formidable home records in rugby.

The Welsh region opened their European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 campaign with a 25-13 win over Exeter Chiefs, thanks to a powerful second-half display from their pack.

The forward battle will once again be key when they take on last season’s beaten finalists, who will be playing their first game of this season’s competition following the postponement of their opening fixture against Bordeaux-Begles, at Stade Marcel-Michelin.

Clermont have not lost at their home fortress since 2008, and the Ospreys do not have the best of records in France having won just once in 14 trips across the Channel.

But with morale boosted by a fine victory over a Chiefs side who are flying high in the Aviva Premiership, Wales and Lions lock Jones is eagerly-awaiting the challenge ahead.

“We can travel with confidence, it has been a good start for us,” he said. “It will be tough out there in a difficult environment and with the quality of the squad they have and the rugby they play. But we came through an opening game that could have gone either way so it gives us something to build on.”

Head coach Steve Tandy believes his men travel with the pressure off their shoulders having taken four match points and denied Exeter a losing bonus point in what promises to be a very tight pool.

“We had opportunities in the second half which we took and remained the ascendancy and kept ourselves ahead, which is a good sign,” said the former flanker.

“Everyone knows how important it is to win your home games and now it is about seeing what you can pick up on the road.We did not give Exeter a bonus point, which was a boost, and we want to go out there, score some points, and see where that takes us.”

Match Facts

  • In the four matches between these clubs in the Champions Cup, each has been won by the home team (two wins each).
  • ASM Clermont Auvergne won the last meeting between the sides and are aiming to win consecutive matches against the Ospreys for the first time in the Champions Cup.
  • The Ospreys’ two victories over ASM Clermont Auvergne are the only defeats the French side have suffered in their last 12 matches against Welsh opposition (W10).
  • Clermont have won their last 23 games at home in the Champions Cup.

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REPORT: Clermont open with bonus-point triumph

Sunday 22nd November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Les Auvergnats ont remporté avec bonus leur premier match européen de la saison

Les Auvergnats ont remporté avec bonus leur premier match européen de la saison

Clermont Auvergne kicked off their European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 campaign with a 34-29 bonus-point win over the Ospreys in a thriller at Stade Marcel-Michelin.

Man of the match David Strettle scored two tries for the home side, with centres Aurelien Rougerie and Wesley Fofana also crossing while fly-half Camille Lopez and scrum-half Morgan Parra kicked their remaining points.

But the Ospreys battled bravely, bookending the second half with quickfire tries from Justin Tipuric and Eli Walker and a late brace courtesy of replacements Sam Parry and Tom Habberfield, and came away with two bonus points that could yet prove crucial come the end of the pool stage.

Few had given the Ospreys much hope of ending Clermont’s fearsome home record, they had won 17 straight European games on home turf stretching back to 2008.

But the Welsh side started brightly and would have had the opening try had Clermont flanker Alexandre Lapandry not held back prop Dmitri Arhip as he surged for the line.

Lapandry was sin binned and Biggar kicked a drop goal to give them the lead, although Lopez quickly responded with a penalty.

Clermont had found their feet and were beginning to look ominous with Sebastien Vahaamahina making some punishing carries.

The breakthrough came from a loose Ospreys clearance. Nick Abendanon fielded the ball and found Strettle, who broke the line and beat Dan Evans to score the opening try, with Lopez converting.

The second was not long in following as prolonged pressure ended with Rougerie racing over from Lopez’s delayed pass. The fly-half converted and added a penalty to make it 20-3 in the French side’s favour.

But the Ospreys responded superbly. They pinned Clermont back in their own half and Tipuric was at the bottom of a fine rolling maul to dot down.

As the home side took stock of that score, so another one followed. Walker kicked ahead and when Tipuric hacked the ball further on the winger kept chasing and beat Noa Nakaitaci to the touchdown.

Biggar kicked both conversions and the game was back in the melting pot, but Strettle came to the rescue with another scorching score.

The England international fielded an Ospreys knock-on and ran a mazy line through three defenders to race under the posts, with Fofana soon adding the fourth score thanks to a pin-point cross-kick from Brock James.

However, the visitors were not done. Tipuric’s lovely offload sent Parry cantering over and one last desperate attack saw Biggar lead the breakout and send Habberfield over to ensure the Welsh side left with two bonus-points.

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