Try-scoring JJ Hanrahan impresses on Top 14 debut for Clermont
Nice way to introduce yourself.
JJ Hanrahan has already endeared himself to Clermont-Auvergne supporters after a try-scoring debut and an excellent all-round performance on his Top 14 debut. Unfortunately, he scored in a losing cause.
The Currow native moved on from Munster, over the summer, after finding himself fall behind the likes of Joey Carbery and Ben Healy in the pecking order. While he could have stuck around in a squad player role, Hanrahan backed himself to make a difference in the 10 jersey once Clermont came calling.
Former Leinster coach Jono Gibbes is the head back at Clermont - having moved on from La Rochelle - and he brought in both Hanrahan and Argentinean Tomás Lavinini in the off-season. The 29-year-old and Camille Lopez are the club's two main out-halves for the season ahead.
With their Top 14 opener away to a Lyon side featuring former Connacht flanker Colby Fainga'a, Gibbes went with a strong XV that contained established stars like Pecili Yato, Morgan Parra, Rabah Slimani and Wesley Fofana.
That selection paid off, early on, as Clermont got over for the first try, through Hanrahan. Fofana and Alivereti Raka both had darts before Hanrahan backed himself from close range to get the ball grounded.
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Xavier Mignot answered back, soon after, with a Lyon try but three Morgan Parra penalties in a row had the visitors 16-7 up after 30 minutes.
All was looking well until Lyon winger Ethan Dumortier helped himself to two tries in the space of four minutes. With Leo Berdeu on good kicking form, the hosts were suddenly 22-16 up at the break.
Lyon were doing an effective job of closing out the contest for most of the second half. Gibbes brought on Lopez for Thomas Roziere, the fullback, and moved JJ Hanrahan back for the final 30 minutes of the game. Berdeu added two penalties while Parra replied with one of his own, and it was 28-19 going into the final 10 minutes.
The home side were deserving winners, though, and even denied Clermont a late try that would have got them a losing bonus point. Hanrahan, who finished with 75 metres gained off nine carries, was involved at the death as Clermont sought for that consolation score, but it was all in vain.