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IT Sun, Apr 29

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  • 14:23
    Clermont Auvergne v Leinster: It’s into the bear pit for Leinster this afternoon, as Joe Schmidt’s side must overcome the toughest possible opponents if they are to reach a third Heineken Cup final in four years. The Kiwi may be thanking him upstairs for small mercies  - Clermont’s ‘home’ semi-final has been moved away from their Auvergne citadel where they have recorded 44 straight wins – but the 3,000 or so Leinster fans who have made the trip travelled more in hope than expectation.

    Yes, Leinster may be the best team in Europe at the moment, playing a brand of rugby few can live with. But Clermont can match them in almost all departments and will bring a raw edge and physicality right across the pitch that will leave the visitors black and blue. Even more so if Jamie Cudmore decides to throw a few shapes. Throw in home(ish) advantage and you’ve one hell of a mountain to climb for the boys in blue. 
  • 14:35
    Team news: As he did two years ago when Leinster travelled to the Massif Central, Schmidt has gone with Isaac Boss at scrumhalf with the former Ulster player’s physicality preferred in the opening stages at least. The only other change from the side that filleted Cardiff earlier this month sees Shane Jennings handed the groundhog  duties ahead of Kevin McLaughlin.

    As for Clermont, Schmidt’s old boss Vern Cotter has an embarrassment of riches to choose from but has been denied the services of David Skrela meaning Brock James, with some unfinished business after his horror show at the RDS, starts at number 10.

    ASM Clermont Auvergne: L Byrne; S Sivivatu, A Rougerie [capt], W Fofana, J Malzieu; B James, M Parra; L Faure, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili, J Cudmore, N Hines, J Bonnaire, A Lapandry, E Vermeulen. Replacements: T Paulo, V Debaty, D Kotze, J Pierre, J Bardy, L Radoslavjevic , R King, J Buttin.

    Leinster: R Kearney; I Nacewa, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, I Boss; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross, L Cullen [capt], B Thorn, S O’Brien, S Jennings, J Heaslip. Replacements: S Cronin, H Van der Merwe, N White, D Toner, K McLaughlin, E Reddan, I Madigan, F McFadden.

  • 14:39
    For those with an interest in normal shaped balls, it would appear James McClean has been persuasive enough to book his place on the flight to Poland in June while Cristiano Ronaldo’s ego received some much-needed massaging as he scored in Madrid’s 3-0 win over Sevilla, a result that will clinch the title if Barca fail to win this evening. Oh, and in Glasgow’s love fest Celtic currently lead Rangers 3-0.
  • 14:47
    Looks like a decent afternoon over in Bordeaux, where 28,000 Clermont fans are making plenty of noise in and around the stadium. Sure, it won’t be as intimidating as the Stade Marcel Michelin, but Clermont are intent on making this part of France a home away from home.

    Schmidt, meamwhile, reveals there were no text messages exchanged between himself and Vern Cotter during the week with both men waiting until after the match to have a proper catch-up.
  • 14:51
    “There will be barbaric physicality out there,” predicts Will Greenwood on Sky. Here’s hoping, Will.
  • 14:57
    niall come on leinster
  • 14:57
    After sweeping across the hordes of Clermont fans, the cameras finally pick out the small pocket of Leinster support. Outnumbered by some nine-to-one, the visitors will struggle to make themselves heard in this cauldron.
  • 15:01
    1 min: And here comes the teams. Thorn has a look around the stadium and allows himself a wry smile. Big Bad Brad doesn’t do initimation. And James gets us underway.
  • 15:04
    3 mins: Impressive start from Leinster, with Nacewa getting his hands on the ball good and early while an Isaac Boss snipe around the fringes almost pays dividends. But the scrumhalf finds himself isolated and Clermont can relieve the pressure.
  • 15:05
    5 mins: Sexton slices through the Clermont line but just as he is about to offload a little shove forces the knock on. Leinster certainly look the more dangerous in the early skirmishes, with some big hits on the likes of Cudmore and Rougerie proving they won’t be bullied.
  • 15:08
    7 mins: Bit of messing around at the scrum, with Wayne Barnes adding to the confusion, but from the scrum the ball is fed wide where Nacewa again beats his man. Great position for Leinster, and Clermont stray offside to kill the move.
  • 15:09
    8 mins – Clermont 0 Leinster 3: And it’s first blood to the boys in blue as Sexton makes no mistake with the penalty. No more than the visitors deserve either.
  • 15:11
    9 mins: James attempts a monster drop goal from inside his own half to respond but this effort is high, wide and handsome.
  • 15:14
    12 mins: Leinster are back on the attack thanks to Strauss poaching the ball at the breakdown and Hines pulls in Boss to give away the penalty. Sexton feels it is a touch too far and goes for the corner. Julien Malzieu, meanwhile, is forced off, with Buttin coming on in his stead.
  • 15:16
    15 mins: That man Nacewa is causing all kinds of problems, chasing his own kick into the Clermont territory and forcing Parra to boot to touch.
  • 15:19
    17 mins – Clermont 3 Leinster 3: It may have taken 15 minutes, but Clermont are finally feeling their way into this contest with Parra starting to pull the strings. After marching into the Leinster half, James is afforded his first kick at goal. Can the Aussie keep his nerve . . . he can, bisecting the posts.
  • 15:22
    20 mins: Sivivatu finds himself up against Ross on the right touchline and, surprise, surprise, wins the foot race. Clermont build the pressure but are harshly called back for a forward pass. Lucky escape for Leinster, as they were caught napping there.
  • 15:25
    22 mins: Leo Cullen throws a bit of a slap and the Clermont loosehead Faure does his best Ronaldo impression. Cullen should have seen yellow but Faure can’t feel too proud of himself for a disgraceful dive.
  • 15:28
    25 mins: Leinster seem to be weathering this Clermont storm, excellent work from Jennings at the breakdown forcing the penalty that allows Leinster to go down the line. But Strauss’s throw is crooked – that’s his second so far – and an attacking opportunity goes a begging.
  • 15:30
    26 mins: Brock James makes a clean line break but can’t evade the Leinster cover. Still too close to call here but Clermont are in the ascendancy. And a Strauss overthrow hands them the ball straight back again.
  • 15:32
    28 mins: Heroic defending from Leinter after Buttin’s deft offload sends Fofana charging into the 22. But Leinster apply the choke tackle with Ross in the thick of it and Leinster are awarded a relieving scrum.
  • 15:34
    29 mins: But the scrum is a mess, being taken for a walk backwards, only for Barnes to ping Clermont for going off their feet. The boos ring out and it’s hard not to agree with the home fans.
  • 15:36
    31 mins – Clermont 6 Leinster 3: Barnes evens things up, penalising Nacewa for coming in at the side at the next breakdown and James has the chance to kick Clermont into the lead from wide on the left. And again, he makes no mistake.
  • 15:38
    34 mins – Clermont 6 Leinster 6: Sivivatu takes out Nacewa who was in pursuit of an aimless Sexton kick. Stupidity from the wing and Sexton punishes him with the simplest of penalties, almost in front of the posts.
  • 15:42
    37 mins – Clermont 9 Leinster 6:  It’s all got a little scrappy over the last few minutes, with Leinster now penalised with Healy coming in from the side. Again, James is unerring with the placed ball and maintains his 100 per cent record. Bonnaire, meanwhile, needs treatment after getting his face in the way of some Leinster studs at the ruck.
  • 15:42
    Tim Leinster,Leinster,Leinster,Leinster,Leinster,Leinster,Leinster
  • 15:44
    39 mins – Clermont 12 Leinster 6: D’Arcy knocks on in the shadow of his own posts after a hospital pass from Healy and Clermont go in search of one last score before the break. They put the squeeze on at the scrum, Barnes decides Leinster are at fault, and James does the necessary.
  • 15:46
    Half-time: And that’s about it for the opening half, with Clermont the better side for all but the opening eight or nine minutes. Six points down, Leinster are by no means out of this but Schmidt has plenty of work to do if they are to turn this around.
  • 15:54
    We’re ready to go here for the second half. Leinster’s work in defence has been exceptional but they’ve had precious little go forward ball to work with. The lineout has been a mess, with three lost in the opening 40 minutes, and only Kearney and Nacewa’s ability to live off scraps has caused Clermont headaches.
  • 15:57
    A quick word from Croker, where Kildare have been crowned Division Two champions following a 0-16 to 0-11 win over Tyrone.
  • 16:01
    41 mins: And we’re back. The camera’s inside the Clermont changing room show Rougerie laying down the law but the home side must be feeling pretty good about themselves. No changes from either side Sexton gets us underway.
  • 16:04
    43 mins – Clermont 12 Leinster 13: Buttin’s pass is to no-one in particular and it trickles into touch. This time the lineout is good, O’Driscoll punches a hole and Kearney is sent through a gaping hole before finding Healy on his shoulder who dives over the line. Stunning riposte from Leinster, who silence the home fans and are back in the lead.
  • 16:07
    46 mins: Clermont come storming back but when James receives the ball he is met by a blue wall of defenders, who toss him around like a rag doll before O’Driscoll strips the ball and Kearney sends a howitzer miles down the field.
  • 16:07
    John Championship minutes.
  • 16:09
    48 mins - Clermont 12 Leinster 16: All of a sudden it’s the Rob Kearney show. The full back drops a monster goal from inside his own half. “Kearney Time,” according to Stuart Barnes.
  • 16:12
    50 mins – Clermont 12 Leinster 16: With the penalty coming, Nacewa slowing the ball down, James has a pop at goal but comes up short. Can he keep his perfect record from the placed ball? No, a horrible effort slices wide of the upright.
  • 16:14
    52 mins - Clermont 15 Leinster 16: Kearney blots his copy book, holding on to the ball in the tackle, and James has an immediate opportunity to make amends. From 39 metres, the number 10 gathers himself, steps forward and nails it.
  • 16:15
    54 mins: Reddan is introduced as Clermont come again in waves.
  • 16:17
    56 mins: Cullen gets a talking to after D’Arcy is the latest player to spoil at the breakdown. The skipper is warned a yellow will be brandished to the next offender.
  • 16:17
    John Leinster can't afford to sit back. They're going to pay dearly unless they pick up tempo. Discipline must improve.
  • 16:19
    57 mins: It’s certainly costing them at the moment John, as Clermont go for the corner . . . but Thorn snaffles the lineout throw and Reddan sends the ball back down the Clermont 22.
  • 16:19
    tim Leinster will probably lose if they dont keep their discipline at the breakdowns
  • 16:19
    Tom They need more players like Mossie Cowhey. A true genius with the ball.
  • 16:21
    59 mins: Reddan has really increased the tempo of Leinster’s play, and Leinster are into the Clermont 22. But the attack comes to nothing as Strauss knocks on. Leinster playing their rugby in the right areas of the pitch though, better stuff from the visitors.
  • 16:24
    60 mins: After a brief stoppage for running repairs, Leinster get the shove on at the scrum and Vermeulen spills the ball under pressure from Reddan. Scum Leinster, in the shadow of the Clermont posts.
  • 16:27
    63 mins – Clermont 15 Leinster 19: Leinster turning the screw now, with O’Driscoll making the initial break before Kearney is just held up short. Clermont had infringed though, and Sexton makes do with three points from a difficult angle.
  • 16:27
    seona 'Scum Leinster'? So you'd be supporting Clermont then?
  • 16:28
    64 mins: Eh, scrimmage Leinster. That do?
  • 16:31
    66 mins: Cronin, on for Strauss, is a bit wayward with his first lineout but O’Driscoll saves his bacon with another turnover, ripping the ball free before Sexton sends it back into the Clermont 22.
  • 16:33
    68 mins: O’Brien bludgeons his way through but elects to attempt a chip over the fullback. The execution is poor and it ricochets back at the Leinster blindside who knocks on and Clermont can relieve the pressure.
  • 16:33
    Peter Geez Seona, this guy is doing a great job keeping us up to date. No need to be such a stickler for small errors. No one is perfect you know. Even you. Just let us enjoy the match in peace.
  • 16:37
    Clermont 15 Leinster ??: As the clock ticks towards the 70 minute mark, Leinster have assumed total control. Clermont concede another penalty, this time on their own 10 metre line. It’s by no means a gimme for Sexton, the touch judges can’t decide and go upstairs.
  • 16:38
    Clermont 15 Leinster 19: The TMO, Jeff Warren, decides it’s marginally wide and Leinster remain on 19 points.
  • 16:39
    seona 'twas a joke Peter, relax. I'm enjoying the commentary hugely
  • 16:41
    73 mins: Is this the sting in the Clermont tail. The go through the phases, reach the halfway line, but Bardy spills the ball into the grateful arms of Leo Cullen and Leinster boot it clear.
  • 16:41
    Guest I agree with Peter; watching abroad, big Leinster fans who don't have Sky, grateful for the updates no matter how you spell it.
  • 16:41
    Frank Yeah Seona, ease up on the commentator, well said peter. Ps to the guy who mentioned Mossie Cowhey, That man should be brought back out off retirement to show these young guys a thing or two.
  • 16:43
    74 mins: Reddan attempts an, eh, ambitious drop goal that scuttles under the posts. But Clermont are being pinned in their own half and starved of any useful possession.
  • 16:43
    Guest Lads relax! She was making a joke, a very witty one at that
  • 16:43
    Guest Think Seona was only having a joke... No offence intended!
  • 16:47
    79 mins: And no offence taken Seona. Back on the pitch, Heaslip’s indiscipline allows Clermont to bring play into the Leinster half. Parra probes around the fringes, wave after wave of white shirts make it to the five metre line and Fofana’s over . . . but has he dropped the ball??
  • 16:48
    79 mins: It sure looks like it, but what does the TMO think. It’ no try. NO TRY. Fofana has just dropped the Heineken Cup. What an escape for Leinster!!!
  • 16:50
    80 mins: But they’re not out of the woods just yet as they have the five metre scrum to survive. And Barnes gives the penalty to Clermont. An amazing finish to an amazing game.
  • 16:52
    Full-time: And they’ve survived, against all the odds, in one of the most dramatic finishes you’ll ever witness.
  • 16:55
    Barnes is going to need a police escort out of Bordeaux after penalising Cudmore for holding on just inches from the Leinster line. In fairness to the official, O’Brien did have his hands on the ball but try telling that to the 28,000 fans baying for blood. How Leinster held out is beyond me as first Fofana knocked on in the act of grounding before the white shirts pounded away at the line to no avail. Stunning, stunning win and we now have an All-Ireland final.
  • 16:55
    Jack Forget the comments lads. Let's concentrate on this cracker of a match!
  • 16:55
    Mick Thanks for the great coverage and wit!
  • 16:55
    Guest thanks for top commentary
  • 16:55
    kathy great commentary ! ¨many thanks what a match... whew...
  • 16:56
    Eleanor Thanks for the updates, brilliant! go on Leinster! xxx
  • 16:56
    caitlin Thanks for the commentary-and well done to Leinster -waiting for your last comment was something else!! Phew!
  • 16:57
    Oanro 'Watching' here and on twitter, still heart attack stuff. PHEW!!!
  • 16:57
    tim thanks for the updates dude
  • 17:26
    Right, still waiting for reaction from Bordeaux and will have that and the match report up on the site presently. A heroic performance from Leinster that will go down as their greatest ever to set up an All-Ireland final in Twickenham. Oh, and Connacht are back in the big leagues on the back of it. A good day all round then.