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Clermont 23 Ulster 29 ratings: James Hume centre stage once again as John Cooney gets his kicks in France

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Ulster's John Cooney and Damian Penaud of Clermont (INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

Ulster's John Cooney and Damian Penaud of Clermont (INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ulster's John Cooney and Damian Penaud of Clermont (INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

What a night for Ulster as they started their Heineken Champions Cup campaign in the perfect fashion with a 29-23 win at Clermont Auvergne.

Duane Vermeulen played his debut, the centres were centre stage and scrum-half John Cooney was flawless from the tee to keep the scoreline ticking over.

Adam McKendry gives his thoughts on the individual performances:

Starting line-up

Mike Lowry - 8

Accidentally set up the crucial try but this was an all-round excellent performance by the full-back. Dangerous throughout.

Robert Baloucoune - 7

A couple of good, strong carries to go with his fleetness of foot, just can't catch a break with injuries. Hopefully won't harm his Six Nations.

James Hume - 9

The kind of performance in Europe that you can only dream of. Had his opposite number beaten every time he had ball in hand. Outstanding.

Stuart McCloskey - 8

Is the perfect foil for Hume and was able to match the likes of Raka and Yato in the physicality stakes. Continues to knock on the Irish door.

Ethan McIlroy - 8

Dependable and always gives you that one or two extra yards every time he's on the ball. Very easy to forget he's only 21-years-old.

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Billy Burns - 7

Ran the line well and facilitated the dangerous men outside him, although some of his decisions could still be better with ball in hand.

John Cooney - 9

Not too many of the kicks were tough but without his metronomic boot this game wouldn't have been won. Was at his fluid best in the loose too.

Andrew Warwick - 7

Continues to do the job that he is called to do every single time, held up the dangerous Clermont scrum and tackled anything that moved.

Rob Herring - 8

The set-piece was assured and in the loose he made himself very busy. A couple of big hits at big moments in an all-action 80-minute display.

Tom O'Toole - 7

Did his part in keeping the scrum up and then led the defensive effort as he seems to be adept in doing. Even added a few big carries to boot.

Alan O'Connor - 7

Always gives you that dependable performance and didn't disappoint in France. Doesn't have the big carries but gets through all the unseen work.

Kieran Treadwell - 7

Never quite got that big carry that kicked him into life, but that didn't stop him from producing some stand-out moments. A good evening overall.

Marcus Rea - 7

Was always likely to take a back seat to his back row partners, but still put in a strong all-round performance that contributed hugely to the win.

Nick Timoney - 8

When all the headlines went to one of the other back rowers, once again he shouldered a lot of responsibility and thrived. The try was a reward.

Duane Vermeulen - 8

If this is what he can produce after one training session, what will he do when he's up to speed? Ulster fans should be thrilled with his short outing.

Replacements

Jack McGrath (for Warwick, 53 mins) - 6

Another step on his way back from injury

Ross Kane (for O'Toole, 68 mins) - 6

One telling contribution late on

Sam Carter (for Treadwell, 63 mins) - 6

Added some structure when it was needed

Greg Jones (for Vermeulen, 51 mins) - 6

A decent cameo in shutting down Clermont

Nathan Doak (for Lowry, 76 mins) - 6

Key intercept prevented a sure-fire try late on

Stewart Moore (for Baloucoune, 37 mins) - 7

Out of position on the wing but filled in admirably

Sean Reidy (for Rea, 63 mins) - 6

Got himself stuck in with lots of energy

Unused sub: John Andrew


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