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They think it's all Auvergne, it could be after Ulster left in a lava

I never thought Gillingham would feature so heavily in European competition, especially with the oval ball, but Sky proved us all wrong on Sunday afternoon.

It was take two of Ulster's battle with Clermont Auvergne and commentator Martin Gillingham was despatched with Tyrone Howe to see if another classic would ensue.

It certainly wasn't for the want of trying on Gillingham's part, making sure we knew we were in a special place at the Stade Marcel Michelin.

"The stands on all four sides rise as sharply as a church steeple and in its own way this stadium has become a place of worship for those in yellow and blue who come here in absolute faith," he explained.

Prayers were answered very quickly, a try in the first minute, not helped by the fact that the church had clearly been interfering in Ulster's selection policy.

"Luke Marshall has the face of a choir boy but he has a killer instinct," said Gillingham, and just as we thought things were getting a little dangerous, the emergency levels went red.

"When France catches a cold in mid-winter, the Auvergne tends to feel it first, volcano country and it's been a volcanic start," he said as tries kept coming, great news for the local rugby lava, sorry, lover.

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Having conceded after 58 seconds in the first half, Ulster knew they would have to do better in the second, and they did, by about half a minute, and at 28-0 down their chances looked about as promising as a choc ice in molten magma.

Ulster weren't quite licked, a brief rally leading Gillingham to say the teams had "served up a Christmas cracker" but it would have needed a Christmas Krakatoa of a blowing up for Clermont to lose this one.

They didn't, Ulster came home with nothing but volcanic dust all over the gutties, Clermont now know it's all Auvergne and Gillingham can concentrate on domestic matters.

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