Sunday, April 11, 2010
Leinster made the semi finals of the Heineken Cup as they narrowly beat Clermont-Auvergne 29-28 at the RDS on Friday night. Jonathan Sexton kicked a late penalty and Brock James failed to slot a last chance drop at goal.
It was a see-saw battle as both Clermont looked like they were in command late in the game despite James missing a host of kicks at goal, and two drop goal chances, in what was a bit of a nightmare night for him.
He missed five of his nine kicks at goal, whereas Sexton was immaculate with the boot, kicking seven from his eight chances, including the deciding penalty on 73 minutes.
"I was rubbish tonight. It was just one of those things because I don't know what got into me," said Clermonts Australian flyhalf James.
"I just wasn't good enough and it's so disappointing because we had the opportunity to win the game but there must be something mental about this team. Leinster capitalised on our mistakes. We really wanted to reach the next stage of the Heineken Cup but now we'll have to concentrate on the Top 14," he added.
"Brock James had a difficult night," commented Clermont coach Vern Cotter. "It's hard to know what he's going through."
Irelands number eight, Jamie Heaslip, was the star of the show though for Leinster as he scored two tries. He admitted that his side had their fair share of luck though.
"Clermont came out all with guns blazing and we wanted to front up and weather the storm, taking our chances when they came," said Heaslip.
"We nearly got a try midway through the second half but it was knocked back by the TMO and that would certainly have made it easier for us. We're happy with the win but we still have a lot of work left to do in this tournament.
"Clermont worked themselves into the right areas to drop goals and we knew they were going to do that so we had to put pressure on them. There was a bit of luck because that last one didn't miss by much but you need that luck in the tournament sometimes."
Julien Malzieu scored a hat-trick of tries for Clermont, but it wasnt enough as James failed to slot the kicks that should have taken them through to the next round.
Sexton fractured his jaw during the game, but has apparently had a metal plate inserted and should be available in three weeks time for the semis.
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