Llanelli Scarlets 13 Clermont Auvergne 31 match report: Lightning strike as Nalaga storms Scarlets’ citadel

Clermont remain on course for a home quarter-final with another two tries from Nalaga leading the way

Parc y Scarlets

Scarlets were over-powered on the pitch yesterday in much the same way as Welsh regions are dominated by French clubs in the transfer market.

Clermont-Auvergne, last season’s finalists, scored the fastest try in Heineken Cup history on their way to a bonus-point win. Many of the crowd at Parc Y Scarlets had barely taken their seats when Napolioni Nalaga pounced after 17 seconds.

Yet full credit to Scarlets, under-manned and under-funded in comparison to the giants from the Massif Central, they recovered from that early blow to take a 13-10 lead by half-time after Gareth Maule finished a scintillating 70-metre attack to score the try of the game. 

The recovery was spirited but ultimately fell short as Simon Easterby’s side were simply swept aside by the French juggernaut, leading the Top 14, with 21 unanswered points in the second half. Indeed Clermont showed their title credentials by flexing their muscles after the break, not least in their scrum that claimed a penalty try before Fritz Lee and Nalaga completed the comeback.

Scarlets have now won only one of their last 10 Heineken Cup ties and all the promise of their winning start this season at Harlequins has faded. “We put ourselves under pressure by giving away too many points that Clermont did not have to work hard for,” said Easterby.

“You can’t cater for tries that early but the boys showed character to recover from it and push one of the best teams in Europe.The penalty try was dubious. Once the referee has given that number of penalties then he has to give a penalty try but we thought Samson Lee did a good job on Thomas Domingo who popped up a few times.

“That combined with our inaccuracy at times made it very difficult for us to get anything from this game. The type of game we had to play to beat Clermont was impossible in these conditions.”

They could not have made a worse start when Josh Turnbull coughed up possession from the kick-off. Thierry Lacrampe kicked ahead and Nalaga beat Nic Reynolds for the touchdown. By a quirk of fate, it was 11 years ago to the day that Daryl Gibson had scored the previous quickest Heineken Cup try in 26 seconds, for Bristol, against Scarlets’ historic rivals Swansea.

But Scarlets recovered and it was not until late in the game that the expected flood of points materialised. Instead they regained composure while French frustration spilled over. Clermont lost their talismanic captain, Aurelien Rougerie, to the sin bin following a punch-up in midfield involving Scot Williams. The yellow card allowed Rhys Priestland to kick Scarlets opening points before his quick thinking ensured they gained even more from the 10-minute spell. The Wales fly-half seized the chance with a quickly-taken penalty on his own 22-metre line. Williams provided the thrust though it needed Liam Williams to scoop possession off the deck for Priestland to release Maule. Priestland converted and added a second penalty before Delany halved their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Scarlets fans briefly allowed themselves to imagine another famous win when Brock James missed two penalties from in front of the posts.

But the front row was increasingly fighting a losing battle in the scrums and, after four successive penalties, Wayne Barnes, the referee, awarded the penalty try. It was the blow that finally broke Welsh resistance and Clermont went for the jugular as Lee and then Nalaga both went over from close range.

“That penalty try was the turning point. It unblocked the score and psychologically hurt them,” said Vern Cotter, the Clermont head coach.


Scarlets: L Williams; N Reynolds, G Maule, S Williams, J Williams; R Priestland, G Davies (R Williams, 68); P John (capt, R Evans, 61), K Owens (E Phillips, 68), S Lee (R Jones, 68), J Ball (R Kelly, 61), G Earle, J Turnbull (J Snyman, 72), J Barclay, R McCusker.

Clermont Auvergne: J-M Buttin; S Sivivatu, A Rougerie (capt), R King, N Nalaga; M Delany (B James, 48), T Lacrampe (L Radosavljevic, 23); T Domingo (R Chaume, 69), B Kayser (T Paulo, 65), C Ric (V Debaty, 65), J Cudmore (N Hines, 61), J Pierre, J Bonnaire, J Bardy (F Lee, 51),  D Chouly.

Referee: W Barnes (England).

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas