The Ospreys did what they should have done a lot earlier in their Heineken Cup campaign and put in a decent performance. Sadly it did not matter, other than to give them a chance of avoiding last place in Pool Three.
There might have been very little hanging on this match, but there was some grit and grunt up front and not a little fizz and sparkle up the middle and out wide. And that was despite both sides being without a raft of top players.
There was no Stephen Jones for Clermont Auvergne, while the Ospreys had lost their captain and hooker, Barry Williams, among others. And of course there was no Gavin Henson.
The Ospreys still had some clout up front and they certainly had the pacier and more adven-turous backs, although Leigh Davies had a miserable start with a couple of knock-ons, one of them when he looked to do little more than slip a pass outside from five metres out.
The French side's pack was a heavyweight mob in exper-ience and physical presence and it took a great deal of guile, spirit and stamina to contain them. Yet the best passage of forward play came early on from the Ospreys when Andy Newman, Richard Pugh, the acting captain Duncan Jones, Lyndon Bateman and the admirable James Bater took the ball towards the French line.
Although they did not get over it, the quintet were rewarded when the Italian referee spotted and infringement and Adrian Cashmore landed the first of his kicks at goal.
Then when Craig McMullen, the Clermont fly-half, dropped the ball Richard Mustoe, a trainee undertaker, became an overtaker and burst through on to Jonathan Thomas's hack ahead. After dummying the defence, Mustoe touched down between the posts.
It was the first of three tries in half-a-dozen minutes. Clermont countered with a well-worked score by their centre Pierre-Emmanuel Garcia, but the Ospreys hit back, with Stefan Terblanche coming up on Cashmore's right shoulder and knifing inside for the touchdown.
An early second-half penalty stretched the Ospreys' lead but that was cut back midway through the half following some good approach-work by the French forwards, Elvis Vermeulen getting the final touch. The Ospreys had to withstand pressure after that but made absolutely sure with Cashmore's fourth penalty in the first minute of added time.
Ospreys: A Cashmore ; S Terblanche, S Parker, L Davies (A Bishop, 66), R Mustoe; S Connor (M Jones, 80), J Spice (R Rees, 35); D Jones (capt), H Bennett (R Hibbard, 63), A Millward (A Jones, 54), A Newman, L Bateman, J Thomas, J Bater, R Pugh (S Tandy, 20; L Beach, 77).
Clermont Auvergne: A Floch; B Paulse (R Chanal, 67), P-E Garcia, T Marsh, J Malzieu; C McMullen, J Moreau; L Emmanuelli (D Zirakashvili, 66), M Ledesma (B Miguel, 62), M Scelzo (A Bastin, 57), J Cudmore, T Privat (capt; L Jacquet, 62), G Longo (E Etien, 73-78), E Vermuelen (Etien, 78), S Broomhall.
Referee: C Damasco (Italy).Reuse content