Two late penalties from Australian fly-half Brock James helped Clermont edge past struggling Bordeaux 28-24 in the French Top 14 on Friday.
It was a relief for coach Vern Cotter who had made 14 changes to the Clermont team which defeated Leinster in the European Cup last weekend.
Despite leading 12-9 at the interval, Clermont were stunned by two tries in the space of five second-half minutes by Bordeaux for whom Louis-Benoit Madaule and New Zealand hooker Ole Avei both scored.
With Bordeaux 24-22 ahead with just seven minutes left, James, who had replaced David Skrela, nudged his team in front and then secured the victory with another successful kick in the last minute.
"Bordeaux had prepared for this match for a few weeks and you could see that in the tackle, they played out of their skins," said Cotter.
"We were under pressure in the first 20 minutes. But we are satisfied with the group. We made 14 changes and I was delighted with the spirit.
"We learnt a lot from the first half -- Brock James, in particular, in terms of territory and placement."
The win lifted Clermont into second place in the table, three points behind leaders Toulon who go to second-bottom Agen on Saturday.
Toulouse, two points behind Clermont, can reclaim second place with victory at Grenoble.