Those who imagined that the Ospreys' win over Stade Français last weekend and Cardiff's demolition of Leeds represented a bright new era had their hopes rudely shaken when Cardiff capitulated pathetically in Perpignan on Friday.
Yesterday, the Ospreys enjoyed the perfect start when Shane Williams caught a pin-point cross kick by Shaun Connor for a fifth-minute try to give them the lead. It promised much, but produced little.
The Ospreys were so short of proper structure or penetration that they allowed a modest Clermont side to score four converted tries and secure a bonus point. Clermont could hardly win a line-out of their own, made copious mistakes and chose the wrong option on numerous occasions. Yet after Connor had landed his second penalty three minutes after half time to trim the deficit to 20-14, the hosts were hardly troubled.
The Ospreys were out-muscled up front and when their tackling began to fail, even a side as poor as Clermont could not fail to take advantage of such scoring opportunities.
The Welsh side were destroyed in the tight and looked several yards off the pace. The lack of conviction in their play was disturbing.
What Clermont did have was the structure given to them by their Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones. He landed an early penalty and then converted a 19th-minute try by the flanker Alexandre Audebert, who finished off a quickly taken free-kick by the scrum-half Pierre Mignoni.
The Ospreys allowed Jones to add another penalty before he set up and converted Breyton Paulse's 38th-minute try. His conversion made it 20-11 at half time after Connor had dropped a snap goal.
Clermont improved after the break, sustaining some movements and finding some consistency to maximise the possession they secured. Their Argentinian No 8 Gonzalo Longo broke off the back of a rolling maul and galloped 20 metres unopposed for the third try.
Twenty minutes later, the former All Black flanker Sam Broomhall finished off a flowing move for the bonus-point try.
Jones converted both scores and a late blitz of replacements by the Ospreys did nothing at all to mask their considerable deficiencies.
Clermont Auvergne: Tries Audebert, Paulse , Longo , Broomhall; Conversions S Jones 4; Penalties S Jones 2. Ospreys: Try S Williams; Penalties Connor 2; Drop goal Connor.
Clermont Auvergne: B Paulse; A Rougerie (capt), G Canale (P Garcia, 74), R Chanal, S Kiole (A Floch, 66); S Jones, P Mignoni; G Shvelidze (L Emmanuelli, 60), B Miguel (M Ledesma, 70), D Zirakashvili, D Barrier (P Vigoroux, 60), J Cudmore, A Audebert (E Vermeulen, 72), S Broomhall, G Longo.
Ospreys: D Karauna; R Mustoe, S Parker, L Davies, S Williams; S Connor (M Jones, 62), J Spice; D Jones (capt; P James, 74), H Bennett (B Williams, 46-49; 62), A Jones (A Milward, 62), B Cockbain, A Newman, J Bater (L Beech, 80), R Pugh, J Thomas.
Referee: R Dickinson (Scotland)
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