Clermont v Munster

Live coverage as Munster take on Clermont in the Heineken Cup

Emmet Riordan Sat, Apr 27
Clermont Auvergne
LIVE: Clermont v Munster

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  • Good afternoon and welcome to The Irish Times’ live coverage of the Heineken Cup semi-final showdown between Clermont Auvergne and Munster from Stade de la Mosson, with both sides trying to earn a place in the decider at the Aviva Stadium on May 18th.

    One team that will be in action in Dublin that weekend is Leinster after their 44-16 hammering of Biarritz at a sunny RDS this afternoon. Joe Schmidt’s side will now take on Stade Francais on their own patch on Friday May 17th.

    Munster’s task in Montpellier is huge against a Clermont side that have been in scintillating form in the competition this year, including a 36-14 dismantling of Montpellier at Stade Marcel Michelin in the quarter-finals.

    In saying that, Munster were back to their old belligerent best at The Stoop in the last eight as they beat Conor O’Shea’s English champions 18-12 to make the last four.

    Paul O’Connell was inspirational in that game and despite rumours of a late injury concern, Gerry Thornley has just confirmed to me that the big secondrow will lead his side out at Stade de la Mosson in an unchanged Munster XV.

    Here’s a look at the teams for today’s game.

    CLERMONT AUVERGNE: Lee Byrne; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Regan King, Wesley Fofana, Napolioni Nalaga; Brock James, Morgan Parra; Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, David Zirakashvili, Jamie Cudmore, Nathan Hines, Julien Bonnaire (capt), Julien Bardy, Damien Chouly. Replacements: Ti’i Paulo, Vincent Debaty, Clément Ric, Julien Pierre, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Jean-Marcel Buttin, Seru Nakaitaci/ David Skrela.

    MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; David Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan. Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Paddy Butler, Cathal Sheridan, Ian Keatley, Denis Hurley.
  • Rob Penney looks pretty nervous ahead of the game or maybe he's just excited. He said "it doesn't get much better than this" when asked about the atmosphere at the stadium. Just 15 minutes to kick-off so let's hear your predictions via the comments section or tweet me @emmetrd and I'll post them on the Live Blog 
  • Vern Cotter wnats to see his side gain some reward for all their hard work and says his side will get over the loss of Rougerie and that Julien Bonnaire is a great leader in his own right.
  • Clermont have confirmed that Seru Nakaitaci will take the final place on the bench with David Skrela ruled out..
  • And Munster take the pitch to a great round of applause, cracking atmosphere in Montpellier as we get ready for kick-off.
  • Welshman Nigel Owens will take charge of affairs.
  • And Clermont get the game underway.
  • 2 mins: Clermont forward pass and first scrum goes to Munster.
  • Honours even there and O'Gara gets his kick away.
  • 4 mins: Penalty to Munster after their forwards do good work following the catch from Zebo.
  • And Munster get their maul going early on and win a penalty in range for Ronan O'Gara..
  • 7 mins: PENALTY - MUNSTER: O'Gara gets Munster off to the perfect start.  
  • That's a great nerve-settler for O'Gara, who has had a few shaky days with the boot this campaign.
  • TRY - CLERMONT: Napolioni Nalaga gets over after some brilliant offloading from the French side.
  • CONVERSION - CLERMONT: Brock James adds the extras from under the posts.

  • 10 minutes gone and it's a cracking game so far.
  • 12 mins: Clermont knock on but they are playing a high-octane offloading game here.
  • Mike Sherry is being treated on the pitch, but he's good to continue.
  • Warren Gatland is at the ground to keep an eye on Lions possibles. He names his squad at 11am on Tuesday morning.
  • 13 mins - PENALTY CLERMONT: Morgan Parra knocks over the three-pointer and it was the French scrumhalf that added the conversion
  • 18 mins - PENALTY - CLERMONT: Parra knocks over another and the pressure grows on Munster.

  • 19 mins: Mike Sherry kicks the ball straight back to Clermont, when he should really leave the kicking to O'Gara and Conor Murray. Munster soaking up a lot of pressure here. 
  • 20 mins: And Munster win a penalty on the half-way line.
  • 22 mins: Munster pinged for obstruction after some good possession.
  • James boots the ball back to the half-way.
  • 25 mins: Munster scrum comes under huge pressure and Clermont go on the attack.
  • And Munster lose the lineout.
  • Stunning play from Clermont, running great angles and causing Munster plenty of trouble.
  • 28 mins: Great tackle on Fofana by Laulala but Jamie Cudmore is in trouble for use of the boot.
  • But he only gets a talking to from Owens on advice of the assistant referee. A big let-off from the secondrow.
  • 29 mins: Murray makes a break but makes a hash of the pass to Zebo.
  • 30 mins: Zebo takes the mark and clears with his left boot.
  • Another break from Fofana but Keith Earls gets back to touch the ball down.
  • 32 mins: Owens gets in the way of Clermont there and apologises.
  • And Clermont will put in at the scrum.
  • Cudmore and Nathan Hines gaining some huge yards for Clermont.
  • But Sherry holds up Benjamin Kayser and Munster clear.
  • 37 mins: Some great tackling from Munster and it's still just a 10-point game.
  • Tommy O'Donnell makes a great break but fails to release having been tackled and Clermont clear through James.
  • 38 mins: Earls and Laulala combine well on the right but the centre puts a foot in touch.
  • 39 mins: Munster deep  in Clermont territory after a penalty. Some points before half-time would be huge.
  • Munster attacking the Clermont line.
  • But Clermont steal it and that's half-time.
  • Okay, we're nearly set for the second half. Gavin Cummiskey has filed a story from the RDS that Joe Schmidt is likely be named as Ireland coach next week. You can read it here.

  • All to do for Munster but they've been brilliant on the back foot so far. Need to get some good possession in the third quarter.
  • And we're off and running in Montpellier.
  • Brilliant kick from O'Gara right to the corner.
  • Clermont clear through James and it's a Munster throw.

  • Munster attacking around the fringes at the moment.
  • This time O'Gara overcooks the kick to the corner and the pressure is relieved for Clermont.
  • 47 mins: Penalty to Clermont.

  • Owens telling Paul O'Connell that Munster players are going off their feet at the breakdown.
  • 48 mins - PENALTY - CLERMONT: Parra makes it 4 from 4 and Clermont are now 13 points clear. 
  • O'Gara cross-kicks but Parra takes the high ball as Felix Jones arrives at the same time.
  • 51 mins: Munster make the first change of the matchwith Denis Hurley coming on for Keith Earls.
  • And Earls is hobbling off.
  • And Hurley makes a vital early impression by claiming Clermont ball close to the Munster line.
  • 54 mins: Clermont go over the top on Zebo and a penalty for O'Gara to go down the line.
  •  57 mins: Zebo takes a huge hit from Sivivatu but stills get out of the challenge. Damien Varley replaces Mike Sherry at hooker.

  • Alexandre Lapandry on for Julien Bardy at openside for Clermont.
  • The Clermont change is a blood replacement for now.

  • 58 mins: Lovely grubber kick through from O'Gara as Munster stay in Clermont's half.
  • Hines claims the lineout and James clears.
  • 60 mins: TRY - MUNSTER: Hurley gets on the end of an O'Gara kick. Brilliant stuff from Munster.
  • And huge credit to Felix Jones after a jinking run into the Clermont 22.
  • That was O'Gara at his best and the conversion would nmake it a 6-point game.
  • CONVERSION - MUNSTER: And it's good from O'Gara.
  • Stuart Barnes is wondering if Clermont's mental state will be okay after that score. Munster need to keep up the pressure here. 
  • Clermont march down the field though and get in a very good position.

  • Great tackle from Murray on Clermont prop David Zirakashvili.
  • Seru Nakaitaci on for Clermont to replace the injured Regan King.
  • 65 mins: Great relieving kick from Zebo, who is unhappy with assistant's opinion of where it went out.
  • Varley receives some treatment and gives both sides a breather.
  • 67 mins:  Penalty to Clermont after the Munster frontrow goes down.
  • Kilcoyne lost his bind
  • 68 mins: MISSED PENALTY CLERMONT - And Parra is wide for the first time today. Nerves maybe.
  • Tommy O'Donnell boots the ball downfield after an interception. Would have been better passing out.
  • Or even booting it straight down the field. Munster make the steal through O'Mahony and Ryan.
  • Panic by Clermont as Munster attack. They just don't get the bounce.
  • Assistant calls a knock-on on Laulala close to the line.
  • 10 minutes to go here, brilliant intensity to this game.
  • Irish Times columnist Alan Quinlan is still hopeful that Munster can pull this one out of the fire. 
  • But Zebo drops the ball in possession.
  • Another break in play, which is helping Clermont at this stage.
  • 73 mins: Knock-on from Murray as he tries to claim a high ball
  • Munster really need to hold on to the ball for another spell in the next 3 minutes.
  • Advantage to Munster after a Clermont knock-on  and Munster must win this scrum and use it well.
  • Just over 5 minutes to go in Montpellier.
  • And we'll have a reset of the scrum.
  • Penalty to Munster after Clermont all offside.
  • And O'Gara will go for the corner.
  • And a great kick from the outhalf. Here we go.
  • Huge lineout to come for Munster.
  • Goes to O'Mahony and Munster drive.
  • Murray goes on the blindside but his pass is blocked.
  • But Munster get a lineout throw.
  • But Varley overthrows the tail and Clermont claim.
  • One minute to go but Munster must attack from deep. And it's a forward pass.
  • Paul O'Connell is the guilty party , but that looks a terrible call.
  • Clermont crowd on their feet and chanting now.
  • 16 seconds left and Owens is asking is the time correct.
  • And it's correct, 16 seconds but Munster must win the Clermont scrum.
  • But Clermont claim iy and it's a penalty and game over.
  • FULL-TIME: Clermont 16 Munster 10
  • Clermont go through but they certainly knew they were in a game today. A brilliant showing from the Munster players, many of who are now in tears. They were brilliant to a man today.
  • And Rob Penney's side can hold their head high. Clermont's first 20 minutes was key to this game, but Munster fought back brilliantly to get within a score. The call to go long for Varley's final lineout was a risk to far and it backfired.
  • Munster players line up to clap off Clermont and there's a lot of stunned and sad faces in red jerseys.
  • And Clermont return the favour. Great game ends with some lovely scenes of sportsmanship. We'll have a report from Gerry Thornley very soon. But for now it's Clermont that march on Dublin next month.
  • Lee Byrne admits it was their toughest game of the season.

  • Paul O'Connell says they let Clermont have a "leg up" early in the game and paid the cost. He also reckons Munster didn't make the most of those late chances killed their chances.

  • Ronan O'Gara waves away talk of whether he will retire. It's not the day for that talk he says.
  • Steve One very proud Munster born fan living in the US. Their lack of belief in the 1st half is what beat them. But they should stand proud. The second half was Munster drive and ambition. Looking forward to winnng next year