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).

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
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