Sunday 15 September 2019

O'Gara's reign begins with Clermont loss

Stuttering start: O’Gara. Photo: Romain Biard/Sportsfile
Stuttering start: O’Gara. Photo: Romain Biard/Sportsfile

Ryan Corry

Ronan O'Gara's first Top 14 game as head coach of La Rochelle was always going to be a stern test once he discovered the opposition would be last year's runners-up and European Challenge Cup winners, Clermont Auvergne.

Despite being without ten players on World Cup duty, Clermont proved to have far too much quality for the Corkman's side.

Australian duo Jake McIntyre and Peter Betham had Clermont 10-0 ahead with as many minutes on the clock, making the most of Tawera Kerr-Barlow receiving a yellow card for knocking the ball down for the away side.

McIntyre's sixth-minute penalty was followed by a try for Betham, converted by the former.

There was more than a glimmer of hope for La Rochelle when a try from Pierre Aguillon and five points from the boot of former Clermont man Brock James levelled the game before the break.

The second half is when Les Jaunards really showed their superior quality as they rattled off 18 points without reply.

Betham notched another try as did back-rower Judicael Cancoriet at the death, consigning O'Gara and his charges to a 28-10 defeat.

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