Belfast Telegraph

Bath are down and out as Clermont hit top spot

Bath 17 Clermont Auvergne 34

Power game: George Moala of Clermont drives over for a try
Power game: George Moala of Clermont drives over for a try
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Clermont leapfrogged Ulster to the top of Pool Three in the Heineken Champions Cup after a late flurry of tries saw them record a bonus-point win over Bath at The Rec last night.

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The French side crossed for three tries in the final 15 minutes to secure all five points - winger Samuel Ezeala grabbed two of them - to move three clear of Ulster, who can retake top spot with a win against Harlequins this afternoon.

The game had been in the balance for large periods as the boot of Rhys Priestland kept the English side in touch, only for the superior fitness levels and skill of the Auvergne outfit to see them prevail comfortably.

The result is realistically enough to end Bath's slim hopes of making it through to the knockouts, given they are bottom with two points having lost all three games so far, two of which have been at home.

Stuart Hooper's men had taken the lead, too, fly-half Priestland going over after just 12 minutes and converting his own score, however former All Blacks centre George Moala went over for a try of his own shortly after, with Morgan Parra's conversion taking the sides in at the interval level after a low-scoring half.

Priestland traded penalties with Parra's replacement Greig Laidlaw before the Scottish scrum-half pushed Clermont into a slender three-point lead, which was then followed by Franck Azema's men going on a scoring frenzy to emphatically seal the five points.

Exciting young winger Ezeala carved his way over for their second try and was followed over shortly after by Alexandre Lapandry, with the former sealing the bonus point with his second eight minutes from time.

Jonathan Joseph got a consolation score for Bath with five minutes remaining, but this is the death knell for their European hopes.

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