PARIS Clermont Auvergne were crowned French rugby champions for the second time after a 22-16 victory over Toulon in the Top 14 final at the Stade de France on Sunday.
The triumph was consolation for Clermont, who won their first title in 2010 but had lost four other finals in the competition in the last decade, after defeat by England's Saracens in the European Champions Cup final last month.
Clermont went 13-0 up inside the opening half hour with a Morgan Parra penalty followed by a try by Fijian wing Alivereti Raka in a devastating counter-attack from deep in their own territory.
Back row forward Damien Chouly fed centre Damian Penaud, who slalomed through the Toulon defence before feeding Raka for the score with Parra converting and then adding a penalty.
But Clermont had number eight Fritz Lee sent to the sin bin for a high tackle and another Fijian winger, Josua Tuisova, brought Toulon back into the match with a try three minutes before halftime following a break by Ma'a Nonu.
However, the six-point difference at halftime with the score 16-10 to Clermont after flyhalf Anthony Belleau's conversion, proved enough for the winners.
The teams traded penalties in the second half with Parra taking his tally for the match to 15 as Clermont hung under intense late pressure from Toulon.
(Writing by Rex Gowar in London; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)