Top 14 Champions Clermont sink Toulon in rematch

Paris (AFP) –


Reigning Top 14 champions Clermont downed Toulon 21-16 on Sunday in a repeat of last year's final to secure their first win of the new campaign.

Alivereti Raka and Damian Penaud scored Clermont's two tries while Camille Lopez contributed 11 points with the boot as the hosts bounced back from last week's opening loss at Bordeaux-Begles.

England winger Chris Ashton crossed the whitewash for Toulon, his third try in two matches since arriving from Saracens, with the visitors at least securing the consolation of a losing bonus point.

Anthony Belleau, whose two missed penalties proved fatal when Clermont beat Toulon 22-16 in June's title-decider at the Stade de France, slotted over the first points at Clermont's Marcel-Michelin fortress.

Lopez responded with a penalty of his own before Ashton gathered a floated pass from Sebastien Tillous-Borde to touch down, with Belleau adding the extras for a 10-3 Toulon lead.

But France lock Romain Taofifenua was lost to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle and Lopez knocked through another penalty before Toulon found themselves reduced to 13 when former All Black great Ma'a Nonu was also yellow-carded.

Clermont took immediate advantage as Raka outmuscled Vincent Clerc to stretch over in the corner and Lopez converted to give the hosts an 11-10 half-time lead.

Nick Abendanon's crafty grubber on 51 minutes was then scooped up by Penaud who burst clear of the Toulon defence to score under the posts, with Lopez tacking on the simple conversion.

Belleau and Lopez exchanged further penalties, with the former splitting the uprights again six minutes from the end to ensure Toulon salvaged a losing bonus point.