Clermont stretch home record with win over Racing

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Clermont stretched their unbeaten home record to 45 matches with a hard-fought 13-12 victory over Racing-Metro in the Top 14 on Sunday.

The victory saw Clermont move into fourth place in the league on 14 points, one adrift of Toulouse, with only Toulon and Biarritz unbeaten after the first four matches of the season, on 18 and 17 points respectively.

The game at a packed Stade Marcel-Michelin got off to an inauspicious start for Racing's Italian winger Mirco Bergamasco.

In just the third minute, Bergamasco was drawn off his line by Jean-Marcellin Buttin in a shocking display of wing defence to allow Fijian try-scoring machine Napolioni Nalaga to use his power to cross for a five-pointer at the corner.

France half-back Morgan Parra converted, while Benjamin Dambielle kicked two penalties for the Parisians to make it 7-6 at half-time.

Hard-hitting Clermont flanker Julien Bardy was then yellow carded early in the second-half for stamping, and Racing made their numerical advantage count with a third Dambielle penalty.

And just after Bardy's return to the pitch, dual code international centre Fabrice Estebanez landed a monster drop-goal, although that was quickly cancelled out by a Parra penalty after a ruck infringement by the Parisians.

Parra then nailed his third successful kick as Dambielle was stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury after a tackle by Clermont's Welsh full-back Lee Byrne.

Estebanez saw a second drop-goal drift wide as Clermont turned the screws after a charged-down 22m re-start.

But Racing held firm despite a good five minutes of intense pressure and, buoyed by France front row internationals Luc Ducalcon and Dimitri Szarzewski, even got a nudge on at scrum time to take the advantage away from the home side.

Parra then narrowly missed a penalty as the game went to the wire, with increasingly desperate defence winning out over flagging attack.

Despite one last prolonged attempt by Racing, Clermont's defence clung on to maintain the team's remarkable winning home record which dates back to November 2009.

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