Tue, Nov 13, 2007 - Page 19 News List

HEINEKEN CUP: Clermont Auvergne outclass Scarlets in Heineken Cup

AFP , PARIS

French club Clermont Auvergne showed their European Cup promise with a comprehensive 48-21 home victory over Wales' Llanelli Scarlets in their tournament-opener.

It was not all gloom and doom for Wales, however, with perennial underachievers Cardiff Blues securing a 34-18 win over Bristol, while English side Saracens sneaked a 33-31 victory over Glasgow in Sunday's two other games.

Clermont winger Aurelien Rougerie, who failed to secure a starting place in France's World Cup starting XV, scored a hat trick, while Julien Bonnaire, Julien Malzieu, Thomas Domingo and impressive Australian outside-half Brock James also got on the scoresheet.

James also kicked four conversions and a penalty in a match which saw South Africa's World Cup-winning skipper John Smit make his debut, along with Alex King, who won the European Cup last season with Wasps -- both of them coning on as replacements.

The Scarlets replied with tries from Dafydd James, Dwayne Peel and ex-All Black center Regan King, with former Clermont outside-half Stephen Jones hitting three conversions, but the French club's formidable defensive blanket succeeded in outmuscling the Welsh side which struggled in the set-piece.

Bristol's hopes of a priceless Cup away win were dashed by an outstanding Cardiff fightback as the Blues prevailed at the Arms Park.

Cardiff wiped out a 13-3 deficit, racing 34-13 ahead through tries by center Jamie Robinson, flanker Maama Molitika and his back-row colleague Martyn Williams -- who touched down twice.

Fullback Ben Blair chipped in with 14 points from the boot and Bristol could only reflect on why everything unravelled so spectacularly, despite having the last word with wing Tom Arscott's consolation score.

They occupied the driving seat throughout the first half -- using their forwards to impressive effect and establishing a healthy lead courtesy of full-back David Hill's try, plus two Jason Strange penalties and a conversion.

In the day's other game, Saracens led 25-11 at halftime thanks to tries from Hugh Vyvyan, Rodd Penney and Ben Skirving, to one from Glasgow's Moray Low.

Kameli Ratuvou added a fourth try but two Dan Parks penalties and a converted Hefin O'Hare score cut the lead to six.

Glen Jackson's third penalty edged the hosts nine points clear and Alastair Kellock's last-minute converted try was too little, too late for Glasgow.

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