Leinster narrowly fail to make it a clean sweep for the Irish provinces
Yet again it was another epic encounter between Leinster and Clermont Auvergne. And yet again, the game was only won by the narrowest of margins.
Clermont Auvergne 15-12 Leinster
While it would have completed a brilliant weekend for the Irish provinces in the Heineken Cup if Leinster could have pulled off a win, it was never going to be easy against a side who hadn’t lost in 50 matches at home and who have been one of the strongest in the continent in recent years.
Still, Leinster weren’t far away and at least they came away with a losing bonus point after a tryless encounter that like most Leinster v Clermont matches had those present and watching on biting their fingernails with the tension of it all.
The Blues trailed by 15-9 at the break after Morgan Parra kicked four penalties to Jonathan Sexton’s three and although he was lamented for an inability to kick a drop goal against the same opposition two years ago, Brock James’ effort on the stroke of half-time proved decisive in the end.
There might have been only three points scored in the second half but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t exciting and although a losing bonus point isn’t the worst result against a side as good as Clermont, Leinster will rue some mistakes, particularly the strangely off-colour lineout throwing of Richardt Strauss.
That point could prove crucial when the pool stages are complete next month, but Joe Schmidt and his players know that next week’s encounter against the same opposition at the Aviva Stadium is a must-win game if they are to maintain their hopes of winning three Heineken Cups on the trot.
If it’s anything like this one, it will be a cracker. We can’t wait.