France fly-half Camille Lopez pulled the strings for Clermont Auvergne in a big Champions Cup win at Bath on Friday night in Pool 3.
Clermont went into Round 3 trailing pool leaders Ulster by two points and after a 60-minute arm-wrestle managed to shrug off Bath’s close attention to register the bonus point.
Lopez started alongside Morgan Parra in the half-backs but the No.9 was replaced by Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw before the break due to injury, a slow first 40 ending at 7-7.
Marginal gains continued to be found by both sides but then Clermont, who included Les Bleu’s Arthur Iturria and Rabah Slimani in their line-up, cut loose.
Electric 19-year-old wing Samuel Ezeala lit the touch paper, scrambling over under the posts before Alexandre Lapandry strode over and Lopez prodded through for Ezeala’s second.
There was consolation for Bath as returning England centre Jonathan Joseph streaked over the line, but it’s Clermont who find their feet after Round 2 defeat at Ulster.
There was an all-French affair in the Challenge Cup as Agen hosted Bordeaux Begles and found themselves on the end of a disappointing 73-3 defeat.
Geoffrey Cros grabbed a hat-trick while Marco Tauleigne, who featured five times in the 2018 Guinness Six Nations, got another – Mathieu Jalibert kicking six conversions and helping himself to a five-pointer.
Elsewhere Castres beat Enisei 28-12 and Edinburgh recorded a 31-20 victory over Wasps at BT Murrayfield. Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh boasted Scotland stars Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Stuart McInally and Hamish Watson in their ranks, with Kinghorn getting the try of the night with a 50-metre effort just after half-time.