Clermont 31-13 Edinburgh: Losing start for Scots in European Challenge Cup
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Clermont 31-13 Edinburgh: Losing start for Scots in European Challenge Cup

Edinburgh’s European Challenge Cup campaign started with a heavy defeat as Clermont-Auvergne proved too strong.

Clermont 31-13 Edinburgh: Losing start for Scots in European Challenge Cup
Clermont 31-13 Edinburgh: Losing start for Scots in European Challenge Cup

After a slow start, tries from George Moala and Alex Newsome put the hosts into a commanding position.

Edinburgh briefly threatened a rescue act as Javan Sebastian crossed and the deficit was cut to four points, but Newsome ran in his second and Daniel Bibi Biziwu sealed a bonus point.

Wes Goosen was able to steal a try back, but it was not enough.

It was a heavily rotated squad that travelled to the heart of France, although Edinburgh’s starting XV still contained 10 internationals and two British and Irish Lions.

It took 26 minutes for the first score of the game, with both teams struggling to get into dangerous positions. Clermont broke the barricades first, with Moala finally crossing after Edinburgh ran out of defenders.

Five minutes later they had their second. Harry Paterson flew out of the line and missed his tackle on full-back Newsome, with the Australian running it in from 22m.

The sides traded penalties before the interval, meaning Edinburgh had at least something to show for the first-half endeavour.

It was important that Sean Everitt’s side scored next, and they did, when Sebastian was fed the ball from a few inches out, flopping over near the sticks. Only seven points behind.

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It didn’t ignite the fightback immediately, but when Edinburgh won a penalty on the Clermont 10m line, Cammy Scott pointed to the sticks. A brave call from the youngster on his first professional start at fly-half, but he nailed the kick to make it a four-point game.

This was the window in which Edinburgh could have come back, but Clermont slammed it shut pretty quickly. A minute later, to be precise. Slick hands from the Clermont backline put Newsome into the corner for an inch-perfect score.

That took any remaining wind out of Edinburgh’s sails, with the raucous French crowd now spurring their charges on with every collision.

It paid off again when Clermont got their rolling maul going again – a weapon they used all night – and this time, sub prop Biziwu crashed over.

Edinburgh still had enough left to fire one shot back when Goosen held off two defenders to score in the corner with five minutes remaining but it was far too little, far too late.

Clermont: Newsome, Delguy, Heriteau, Moala, Roziere, Belleau, Bezy; Falgoux (c), Fainga’a, Ojovan, Simmons, Lavanini, Dessaigne, Yato, Sowakula.

Replacements: Beheregaray, Bibi Biziwu, Kiteau, Lee, Tixeront, Jauneau, Plisson, Fouyssac.

Edinburgh: Swiel, Paterson, Bennett, Dean, Van der Merwe, Scott, Vellacott (c); Hislop, Ashman, Sebastian, Sykes, Hodgson, Crosbie, Watson, Mata.

Replacements: McBurney, Venter, Williams, Young, Boyle, Shiel, Currie, Goosen.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wal)

Assistant referees: Joy Neville (Ire), Padraic Reidy (Ire)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ire)

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