Exeter 12 Clermont Auvergne 46
Clermont Auvergne clinched their second consecutive Heineken Cup win with a 46-12 triumph over Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
Exeter controlled much of the first period and found themselves 12-10 up at half-time thanks to four Gareth Steenson penalties. Clermont responded through Napolioni Nalaga's converted touchdown and Morgan Parra's three-pointer. But Auvergne showed their class in the second period with tries from Wesley Fofana (twice), Julien Bonnaire, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Nalaga to complete a resounding victory. As has so often been the case in the last two years, despite being huge underdogs the Chiefs were impressive against defending champions Leinster last week, narrowly succumbing 9-6 in Dublin. And versus French giants Clermont, who effectively fielded an international-standard team, it was the hosts that set the early tempo. Looking to run the ball at every opportunity, they were rewarded when Steenson slotted an early penalty. That was followed by another from the fly-half as the Chiefs took a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes. However, the visitors with all their quality weren't to be shackled for long as Nalaga almost forced his way over out wide. He was ruled to be in touch, but moments later the winger displayed his immense strength by barrelling across the whitewash. Parra added the conversion as the French outfit took the lead before Steenson regained Exeter's advantage with a third three-pointer. The Chiefs' stand-off then kicked his fourth from the tee before Parra reduced the arrears to 12-10 at the break after Richard Baxter had been sin-binned for a cynical infringement at the ruck. With the hosts down to 14 men at the start of the second half, Clermont lifted the tempo and after a period of dominance they took the lead through a penalty from their scrum-half. Even when Baxter returned, Auvergne continued to dominate and Fofana went over from a turnover before Bonnaire finished off another sweeping move to stretch the score to 25-12 in the visitors' favour. Sivivatu confirmed the bonus-point with a fourth try and Fofana then intercepted the ball as Exeter searched for a consolation score. And Nalaga completed the rout with another touchdown with the last move of the match.