Clermont make fast start to reach Champions Cup final
Clermont make fast start to reach Champions Cup final
24 Abril, 2017, 08:58
French giants Clermont Auvergne overpowered Leinster 27-22 to set up a clash with Saracens in the Champions Cup final.
Then came the match-turning moment as Leavy went over at the end of a flowing Leinster break, only to be penalised when replays showed he had held the leg of Aurelien Rougerie at a ruck.
Clermont's Peceli Yato scores the first try of the game.
Clermont were grateful when the influential Lopez followed a 71st-minute penalty with another accurate drop goal, ensuring a late three-pointer for Sexton proved in vain. There was a real feeling that Leinster's chance might have come and gone and Clermont were back in the ascendancy.
David Strettle scored in the corner soon after after more Clermont pressure.
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His second experince of cup final rugby was a little less inspiring as Clermont were leading Toulon for much of the match before a breakaway try by Delon Armitage sealed the silverware for Mourad Boujellal's multi-national team of superstars.
Sexton said Leinster were not out of the game despite the halftime deficit. Carbery took a brilliant line of Ringrose and was about to offload to Nacewa for a certain try only for Strettle to perform a last ditch tackle and force a knock-on.
Clermont have reached the semi-finals for the fifth time with their previous four games at this stage all coming since the beginning of 2011-12 (W2, L2). Johnny Sexton, 9. Luke McGrath.
Leinster felt the heat as Clermont tore into the Irish side from the first whistle.
Rhys Ruddock comes into the team at blindside flanker, with Dan Leavy moving to openside, while Leinster's other 2017 Lions - centre Robbie Henshaw, fly-half Jonathan Sexton and props Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong - all start. Parra kicked the three points from the resulting penalty. No club has faced Clermont more often than Leinster while only Leicester Tigers (11) have played against the Irish province more often than the TOP 14 side.
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Ringrose's dazzling run for a handsome try and Sexton's conversion set up a nail-biting finale.
That trust which the Leinster players had in their own ability and that of their team-mates was the key to that memorable comeback in the final six years ago. The French side manufactured a turnover and Lopez kicked a penalty to give them some breathing space at 24-19.
Parra then missed a penalty that would have made it an 18-point game before Sexton kicked a penalty with the last kick of the first half and early in the second half to cut the lead to nine points.
Some players might have been satisfied with simply getting back to another final with a different club, might even have looked on a runners-up medal as a neat companion piece to the winners medal they already had in their collection, but Hines was always far more driven than that.
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