Ospreys 26 Clermont Auvergne 12: Jones saves pride for fallen Ospreys

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It might have been a meaningless match, but at least it was not pointless. There is now a realistic chance of the Ospreys escaping the humiliation of finishing bottom of Pool Three.

"I was pleased with the performance," said their coach Lyn Jones. "Performance was more important than the result.

"We have a vision at the Ospreys, and that is to win the European Cup. The Ospreys are just two years old and we are still developing."

This was only their second victory of this European campaign and their position in the Celtic League is disappointing, at bottom but one. That is why beating Clermont Auvergne, albeit at home, was so vital.

They had already overcome Stade Français and had worried Leicester at Welford Road, yet as Jones pointed out: "We are the leaders in this group according to first-half performance." By the time the second halves are taken into account the Ospreys find themselves third out of four.

They did look good though, especially up front where they more than matched their experienced opponents. The Wales prop Duncan Jones, the acting captain in the absence of the injured Barry Williams, had a fantastic match. In the set-piece he was an immovable object, in the loose an irresistible force. His tackles were immense, his ball handling secure.

His captaincy drew unstinting praise and a bold prediction from his coach. "Duncan has been an exceptional leader and if and when Gareth Thomas steps down I think Duncan will be the next Wales captain," said Jones. "Duncan reads the game as well as anyone and he is in the best form of his career."

The Ospreys needed to be on form to a man, given how many key players they were missing for one reason or another, and if Duncan Jones epitomised all that was good up front in the Ospreys team then the left wing Richard Mustoe, a sometime apprentice undertaker, and the centre Sonny Parker caught the eye in the backs.

Mustoe has blistering pace, good hands and clear vision. Parker is more Sonny Liston than Sonny Boy, a veritable one-man wrecking crew in the midfield.

The Ospreys' two tries were delightful. Mustoe got the first, chasing up and gathering a Jonathan Thomas hack ahead. The left wing looked left for the impending support, the defence went that way and Mustoe broke right and left them for dead.

The second try, right on the stroke of half time, was the result of some excellent interplay between the New Zealander Adrian Cashmore and his right wing Stefan Terblanche, with the South African touching down.

The full-back Cashmore scored all the other Ospreys' points with four penalties, as well as converting both tries.

There was collective disappointment at the absence of Wales fly-half Stephen Jones, who pulled out of the visiting team with an ankle injury. Other than that it was smiles all round at the Liberty Stadium.

The Ospreys look ready to take the plunge and salvage something concrete from their season at last.

Ospreys: Tries Mustoe, Terblanche; Conversions Cashmore 2; Penalties Cashmore 4. Clermont Auvergne: Tries Garcia, Vermueulen; Conversion McMullen.

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, R Pugh (S Tandy, 20; L Beach, 77), J Bater.

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), S Broomhall, E Vermuelen (Etien, 78).

Referee: C Damasco (Italy).