Ex-All Black Bridge scores but loses on Montpellier bow


Former New Zealand winger George Bridge scored on his Montpellier debut as his new side lost 19-14 at Clermont in the French Top 14 on Saturday.

Bridge, 27, headed to France earlier this month from Canterbury and crossed just after the break as his club, the Top 14 champions, stayed in fifth place in the table.

Ex-France fly-half Jules Plisson kicked 14 points at Stade Marcel-Michelin for the hosts who are 10th after their first win in four games.

"There was a little bit of pressure on the squad and we found it hard to let loose tonight," Clermont captain Arthur Iturria told reporters.

"No matter how, it was important to get back to winning ways, this victory is superb for the group."

Clermont led 6-3 at the break as Plisson slotted two penalties as Louis Foursans responded for the visitors before Bridge gave the southern outfit the lead on 44 minutes.

Foursans missed the conversion before Loic Godener crossed and Plisson converted to make it 13-8 with half an hour to play.

With 20 minutes remaining Clermont, nicknamed Les Jaunards (The Yellows) but wearing a white shirt at home, led 16-14 as Plisson and Foursans were successful with shots at goal.

Plisson, 31, then made sure of the win with an effort with eight minutes left as they recorded their first win since October 15.

- Dupont returns -


England back-rower Jack Willis crossed on his maiden Toulouse start as the league leaders hammered Perpignan 34-13.

France captain Antoine Dupont was a second-half substitute for the record 21-time champions after the scrum-half won an appeal against a month ban for a red card during the win over South Africa on November 12.

Struggling Brive remain bottom after losing 33-13 at Bordeaux-Begles with the 1997 European Cup winners looking for a first win since October 1.

Ex-Ireland centre Stuart Olding, in his fifth season with Brive, left the field on a stretcher and was transported to hospital with an upper body injury, which caused a quarter of an hour delay.

La Rochelle lost 27-14 at Stade Francais seven days out from starting the defence of their Champions Cup title when they play Northampton Saints next weekend.

On Sunday, last season's runners-up Castres play Pau while Wales fly-half Dan Biggar is unable to make his Toulon debut against Racing 92 after only arriving on the south coast on Monday.



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