PARIS, May 29 (Reuters) - Clermont, well used to heartbreak after 10 defeats in as many finals, tasted glory at long last by defeating holders Perpignan 19-6 to clinch their first French championship title at the Stade de France on Saturday.
“Bloody hell, it was time. We worked so hard,” Clermont number eight Elvis Vermeulen, who was a member of the team that lost the last three finals against Stade Francais, Toulouse and Perpignan told television channel Canal Plus.
Clermont coach Vern Cotter, his eyes filled with tears, added: “It was three years of sheer frustration but every year we tried to come back stronger. Full credit to the players. We are going to have a good night,” he said.
The game was a rematch of last year’s final won 22-13 by Perpignan.
Clermont scored the only try through Fiji wing Napolioni Nalaga who charged over like a prop after a ruck on the Perpignan try-line.
Scrumhalf Morgan Parra contributed three penalties and a conversion and fullback Anthony Floch added a drop goal.
Perpignan answered with two penalties scored by fullback Jerome Porical who had scored 14 points in a flawless performance last year but missed three penalties on Saturday.
“We can’t complain. We didn’t manage to develop our game. Clermont were stronger on the day and they deserve their title,” said Perpignan scrumhalf Nicolad Durand.
(Reporting by Jean-Paul Couret, editing by Justin Palmer; To query or comment on this story e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) (email@example.com; +33 1 49 49 53 70; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org; For the new Reuters sports blog Left Field go to: blogs.reuters.com/sports)
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