Paolo Odogwu went from frustration to heartbreak – despite turning on the style for watching Eddie Jones.
The man England would not play started his first game for 12 weeks and wasted no time showing what they missed in the Six Nations.
He scored with Wasps’ first attack and looked to have bagged another before half-time as Clermont found his power game too hot to handle.
But the second was one of THREE Wasps tries chalked off by the TMO and it proved costly as the two-time winners lost a sixth straight game at home – beaten to a Champions Cup quarter-final spot on the final play.
“We have had a lot of held-up tries over the last few weeks, a lot of decisions go against us, but this one really hurts,” admitted Wasps captain Joe Launchbury.
“Some of our best memories as a team have been playing in this competition. We are gutted not to progress.”
Odogwu, who spent the entire Six Nations toiling in England camp without getting near to winning a cap, was entitled to feel particularly sore.
His first try, rampaging over from distance after Michael Le Bourgeois had made the bust on first phase, was a gem.
But his smile turned to a frown, first as ref Frank Murphy ruled he had not prevented Peni Ravai from getting the ball down for a Clermont try when it looked for all the world that way on replays.
Then the officials adjudged that his brilliance in skinning two French defenders along the touchline should count for nothing as his boot had skimmed the whitewash.
Worse still, Odogwu was subbed off with nine minutes left and Wasps ahead by five, only for his replacement Zach Kibirige to be carded for the penalty from which Kotaro Matsushima snatched the winning try.
“Paolo went well and there’s more in the tank,” said Wasps boss Lee Blackett. “The more game time he gets the more he’ll return to the form he showed before he went to England.
“It looked like we were back to our best didn’t it, which only makes the defeat all the more gutting. Three disallowed tries, that’s 21 points we left out there.”
Clermont, runners-up three times in the last eight years, are contenders for the best team never to have won the Champions Cup.
They showed glimpses of what they are capable with Sébastien Bezy rounding off a dazzling 80-metre counter to score.
But Wasps looked the likelier to earn a last-eight shot against Toulouse, with Josh Bassett and Ben Harris adding tries either side of half-time.
One more score would have done it, but it wouldn’t come. Matteo Minozzi dropped the ball over the line, Tommy Taylor’s try was brought back for a forward pass.
Camille Lopez instead kicked Clermont back to within reach and, with the clock in the red, Matsushima popped up to complete a smash-and-grab raid.
WASPS – Tries: Odogwu, Bassett, Harris. Cons: Umaga 2. Pens: Umaga 2.
CLERMONT – Tries: Bezy, Ravai, Matsushima. Cons: Nanai-Williams, Lopez 2. Pens: Lopez 2.