Northampton Saints 20-41 Clermont Auvergne, Franklin's Gardens
Clermont Auvergne kick-started their European Challenge Cup campaign with a 20-41 bonus point victory over Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Clermont are positioned second in the Pool 1 after round one while Northampton Saints are at third in the table topped by Dragons.
Northampton suffered a setback at the start of the game when Harry Mallinder left the field in the fifth minute and Luther Burrell replaced him. After Dan Biggar and Greig Laidlaw traded penalties, Peter Betham scored the opening try for the visitors in the 22nd minute.
Biggar cut down the trail for the home side with his second penalty kick that came in the 26th minute but the French side dominated the remainder of the first half with tries from Peceli Yato (35') and Betham (38') as they ended the first half with a 6-20 lead.
The visitors further upped the ante with Rabah Slimani (52'), Arthur Iturria (62') and Peceli Yato (64') in a span of 12 minutes and Laidlaw kicked all three conversions as the scoreline became 6-41.
With just four minutes left in the game, Northampton Saints managed two back to back tries from Tom Collins (78') and David Ribbans (80+1') with James Grayson converting both but the damage was already done as they succumbed to a 20-41 defeat.