Two late penalties from Australian five-eighth Brock James helped Clermont edge past struggling Bordeaux 28-24 in French rugby's Top 14 on Friday.
It was a relief for coach Vern Cotter who made 14 changes to the Clermont team which defeated Leinster in the European Cup last weekend.
Leading 12-9 at the interval, Clermont conceded two tries in the space of five second-half minutes with Louis-Benoit Madaule and New Zealand hooker Ole Avei both scoring for Bordeaux.
With Bordeaux 24-22 ahead with just seven minutes remaining, James, who replaced David Skrela, nudged his team in front before securing victory with another successful kick in the final 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 on the ladder, 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.