Biggar stands tall to see off French revival

Ospreys 25 Clermont 24: The 1,000th game of the Heineken Cup was marked in suitably enterprising style as the Ospreys clung on for a tense win over Clermont Auvergne at Liberty Stadium yesterday.

The 1,000th game of the Heineken Cup was marked in suitably enterprising style as the Ospreys clung on for a tense win over Clermont Auvergne at Liberty Stadium yesterday.

The northern hemisphere's premier competition has embraced nine different countries in the pursuit of exciting ties like this – and these two heavyweights lived up to the billing on a landmark occasion.

The Ospreys led 22-3 at the interval following a devastating opening period of attacking flair, before Clermont hit back with 21 unanswered points to set up a memorable finish, with the hosts emerging as slender victors in a compelling six-try contest.

"We wanted to go out with an attacking intent against Clermont," Ospreys coach Sean Holley said. "We knew they were big, heavy and wanted to move them around. We achieved that in the first half and we were bullish at half-time, but sometimes you have to give the opposition credit.

"Clermont are a formidable side and I would say they have been the best side to come to the Liberty in the last two years. They have great depth, size and tactics, and we found them difficult to contend with. The players are disappointed that we let Clermont back into the game but they exposed us down the short-side and the scrum was a concern.

"We could have easily lost the game but we showed resolve at the end to get back in front and hold on. It was tight but we got over the line, albeit it's not good for the blood pressure. But we're in control of the group."

Holley's men flew out of the traps, keen to atone for throwing away an 18-point lead in the draw with Leicester at Welford Road a week earlier.

Utility back James Hook set the standard for a pulsating encounter with a deft drop goal after just 90 seconds, before Lions and Ireland wing Tommy Bowe pounced on a clever grubber kick from Nikki Walker for the opening try.

Such was the hosts' dominance in the early exchanges, Clermont did not enter the Ospreys 22 until the 21st minute. When they did, however, Australian fly-half Brock James used his experience to ensure the visitors capitalised with a well-executed drop goal.

Then, with one foot back in the match, Clermont undid their good work when the lock Thibaut Privat was yellow-carded by English official Wayne Barnes for a trip on Shane Williams. And the rampant Ospreys did not waste any time in maximising their numerical advantage. Former All Black Jerry Collins was held up short of the try-line but the home side exposed Clermont's lack of numbers, and a swift pass to the left of the posts by Alun-Wyn Jones allowed captain Ryan Jones to double their try count.

Man of the match Collins marred his display in a matter of moments when he was sin-binned for a shoulder charge on James before the hosts finished the half with a flurry. Dan Biggar's chip over the top was gathered by the lively Bowe who combined with Hook to allow full-back Barry Davies to saunter home.

The Ospreys were flying but Clermont turned the match with three quick strikes in 11 minutes through Benoît Baby, Thomas Domingo and Alexandre Lapandry. But the home side finally regained their composure when fly-half Biggar kicked a long-range penalty in the 63rd minute to seal victory.

The win may have come at an expensive cost, though, with the club and Wales as a whole worrying about the fitness of Mike Phillips. The scrum-half hobbled off in the 33rd minute with an ankle injury and left the ground on crutches. Phillips faces a scan today to discover the extent of the damage.

Wales coach Warren Gatland was watching in the stands and he will be concerned, with the opener of the autumn Tests against New Zealand less than three weeks away.

"Mike is having treatment on his ankle but we don't know if it is bone or ligament damage yet," Holley said. He will be reviewed by our physiotherapists in the first instance and then by the surgeons who will make a diagnosis."

Scorers: Ospreys: Tries Bowe, R Jones, B Davies; Conversions Biggar (2); Penalty Biggar; Drop goal Hook. Clermont Auvergne: Tries Baby, Domingo, Lapandry; Conversions James (3); Drop goal James.

Ospreys: B Davies; N Walker, T Bowe, J Hook, S Williams; D Biggar, M Phillips (J Nutbrown, 33; A Bishop, 73); D Jones (P James, 55), H Bennett (R Hibbard, 36), C Griffiths (C Mitchell, 55), A Jones, J Thomas (I Gough, 57), J Collins, R Jones (capt), M Holah (F Tiatia, 59).

Clermont Auvergne: A Rougerie (capt); B Baby, G Canale, S Bai, N Vonowale Nalaga; B James (B Russell, 75), K Senio; L Faure (T Domingo, 47), M Ledesma, M Scelzo (V Debaty, 54), J Cudmore, T Privat, J Bonnaire, E Vermeulen, A Lapandry (J Bardy, 65).

Referee: W Barnes (England).

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments