Clermont prove too strong for valiant Leinster
European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-final
Clermont Auvergne 27-22 Leinster
Clermont will face Saracens in the European Champions Cup final after seeing off a Leinster fightback to win 27-22 in Lyon.
Leinster were punch-drunk in the opening quarter as Clermont flanker Peceli Yato went over for the opening try inside five minutes. Morgan Parra converted, and slotted a penalty shortly thereafter when Isa Nacewa was sent to the bin for holding back David Strettle on a support run. With Clermont a man up, they added a second try through Strettle to put themselves 15-0 ahead with Leinster at sea.
The visitors could not recover, and would have been even further behind had the French outfit not managed to scupper several opportunities to pile on more points.
Then, with three minutes remaining in the first half, Leinster found some space and were camped in the hosts’ half for an extended period, before milking a penalty which Johnny Sexton converted for his side’s first points of the game on the half-time whistle.
Leinster came out firing in the second half, and had Clermont rattled as Sexton was able to add three further penalties to make it 15-12 after 55 minutes.
The Irish province then broke from deep near the hour mark and Dan Leavy crashed over from short range, but the TMO called play back for a block on Aurelien Rougerie who was stopped from making a crucial tackle.
Clermont added three points from the resulting penalty to rub salt in the wound, and Camille Lopez then slotted a drop goal to put his side 21-12 up after 65 minutes. A superb solo try from Garry Ringrose brought Leinster within two points following the conversion, but Lopez traded penalties with Sexton and added another drop goal as Clermont held out for the win.