Clermont hold on to beat Montpellier
TOP 14 REPORT: Clermont beat Montpellier 26-22 for their first win of the new Top 14 season on Sunday, but were made to work hard for victory.
The second defeat in a row in the first two games of the season for Montpellier came despite a brave last-ditch effort that saw them claw back 10 points in the final eight minutes.
Clermont, who drew against La Rochelle in their opening game last weekend, led 16-5 at half-time after Fijian-born winger Nao Nakaichi ran 80 metres to touch down under the posts in the 23rd minute.
Flyhalf Camille Lopez added the conversion to his nine first-half points from three penalties.
Lopez, who was a stand out man for the visitors, said after the game: "To survive in this league you need to win against the big clubs, and we managed that today."
"We want to win everything and we are going to keep on trying," said Lopez.
Despite Lopez's boot, a try after nine minutes by Paul Willemse for Montpellier kept the home team in contention but after the break another penalty from Lopez increased Clermont's lead to 19-5.
Montpellier, who lost 12-20 to Toulouse in their first match of the season, shrugged off the blow and hit back almost immediately when Pierre Spies touched down for a try after 46 minutes which South African Demetri Catrakilis converted to pull then back into contention.
However, Clermont stuck again in the 68th minute when Fijian flanker Perceli Yato broke through to score again, with Lopez supplying the conversion.
What should have been the killer blow triggered instead a remarkable fightback from Montpellier.
During the dying minutes of the match they added 10 points with a try from Springbok Bismarck du Plessis in the 72nd minute, converted by Ben Botica, who also kicked a penalty with just two minutes remaining.
Montpellier were left rueing their first-half mistakes which left them with too much to do in the second half.
"When you spend your time defending it's difficult to find the energy to attack. We made too many mistakes in the first half," said Montpellier centre Alexandre Dumoulin.