Clermont's Matsushima 'fine' after rugged Stade Francais challenges

·2-min read

Captain Morgan Parra said Kotaro Matsushima was "fine" after the Japan full-back was the victim of challenges that drew yellow and red cards as Clermont won 34-27 at Stade Francais in the French Top 14 on Saturday.

Matsushima passed to Alivereti Raka for a first half score and, late in the game, was on the wrong end of a dangerous tackle from Jonathan Danty that brought a sin bin and then a high boot from winger Lester Etien, who was sent off.

"Kotaro is fine. It's the law. Etien jumps, firstly his foot is loose then he stiffens it," Clermont captain Morgan Parra said.

"It's a job well done for us against a direct opponent for the play offs. It's very good," he added.

The Parisians were without France centre Gael Fickou, who played in Friday's loss to Scotland.

Away coach Franck Azema made five changes from the loss at Montpellier earlier this month and was also without a back on France duty, winger Damian Penaud.

The score was 10-10 after half an hour with Sefa Naivalu crossing for the hosts and Mastushima fed Raka as fly-halves Joris Segonds and Camille Lopez exchanged penalties.

Lopez added two further penalties before flanker Pablo Matera touched down on the stroke of half time to give the Parisians a 17-16.

They started the second half with another score as another back-rower Sekou Macalou finished off a sublime 50m run by dotting down.

Segonds kicked the extras to make it 24-16 before Clermont centre Wesley Fofana's try closed the gap to three points with half an hour to go.

Lopez and Segonds traded shots at goal as the hosts led 27-24 with a quarter of an hour left.

Stade Francais' hopes were dealt a blow as centre Danty was shown a yellow card with 14 minutes left for a dangerous tackle on Matushima.

Azema's men kicked to the corner and replacement hooker Adrien Pelissie found a way over from a rolling maul and Lopez's conversion made it 31-27 to Clermont with 10 minutes left.

With six minutes to play, Etien was sent off after making contact with Matsushima's head with a boot while attempting to collect a high ball.

Lopez slotted a late penalty and Azema's outfit won to stay fourth and leave the hosts six points off the play-offs.

Later, two-time Rugby World Cup Victor Vito takes La Rochelle to Bordeaux-Begles on his 34th birthday.

Argentina winger Juan Imhoff makes his 200th Racing 92 appearance in the trip to lowly Bayonne.

Leaders Toulouse host Montpellier, who have South Africa playmaker Johan Goosen playing just his second game of an injury-ravaged season.

The Springboks' World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth starts at blindside for Toulon at Lyon in the final game of the day.

iwd/pb