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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Leinster hold out against Clermont to reach another Heineken Cup final

Leinster booked themselves another Heineken Cup final as they beat Clermont 19-15 in a dramatic game that went right down to the final minutes. Today we've got highlights for those of you that missed the game, or just want to relive the best bits.

Leinster held off Clermont in a frantic last few minutes as they set up an all-Irish European Cup final, where they will face Ulster, who beat Edinburgh on Saturday.

French centre Wesley Fofana could have won it for his side, but failed to ground the ball over the line with two minutes left on the clock. Leinster's Cian Healy made no mistake earlier in the game as he crossed following a lovely break from Rob Kearney.

"The guys didn't hold back in putting their bodies on the line when Clermont attacked in the final few minutes. We can be very proud of winning a game such as this," said Leinster coach Joe Schmidt.

The win sets up an intriguing clash with Ulster, who are looking to emulate the success Leinster have had in the competition. "Leinster and Munster have probably been the forerunners with regard to European rugby and Irish rugby," Doak told the Belfast Telegraph.

"For (want of) a better word, we’re jealous of that. Obviously they have been in three finals in four years, which is absolutely tremendous from their point of view. It’s a credit to their management and the players — they’ve worked hard and got themselves to three finals out of four.

"We want to do that; we want to emulate and better that. We’ve got a chance in the cup final in a few weeks time, though, obviously, Leinster are going for back-to-backs so we’ve just to try and make sure that we do ourselves justice, pitch up, hopefully upset them and get ourselves a second European win," he said.

Leinster will face Ulster at Twickenham in the final on May 19th. What's your prediction?

Posted at 12:03 pm | 63 comments

Darren Cave & Johan Muller hits plus first semi highlights

Posted in Heineken Cup Knockout Stages

Viewing 63 comments

drunkcone May 02, 2012 3:11 pm

First!!! Still such a tense watch. Feeling sick all over again when Fofana goes over. Incredible game!

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redwan_ May 02, 2012 3:12 pm

That Clermont prop needs to learn how to take a punch. Cullen shouldn't have thrown the punch in the first place but the dive is more deserving of a yellow than the punch in my opinion. Leave that on the football pitch. Too much diving happening in french rugby at the moment, especially from the likes of Para. Man up, take the hit, get him back with a big LEGAL tackle or clearout at the next ruck. None of this pussying around.

On another note, I cannot wait for the final between Ulster and Leinster, should be a cracker of a game, although I think Leinster will probably edge it, so much experience in that team. Although if Pienaar plays like he did against Edinburgh again, that sould be quite a game.

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i love bacon May 02, 2012 3:14 pm

Given the all-Irish final, does this mean Connacht will be in the Heineken Cup again next year, too?

On another note, I find it unfortunate that Ireland can repeatedly field the top club sides in Europe, but on a national level, they are anything but consistent.

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Reality May 02, 2012 3:43 pm

Yeah, Connacht will be there. If an Irish team wins the Heineken Cup they get an extra team in it the year after.

And about the Irish national team, hear hear!

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Ronan O Mara May 02, 2012 3:31 pm

My dad CiarĂ¡n reckons Landsdowne would give Leinster a good run for their money #Galacticos #Livelifeloveleinster

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Colombes May 02, 2012 3:52 pm

A great match and a pretty memorable moment of rugby achieved by both sides
Don't know if one side deserved more than another, so that will be Leinster.
Each team had their dominations.

Leinster didn't exist during the 1st half, but came back very well after halftime with the opportunist try from Healy, and controled the game with Sexton boot until the last 10 minutes.
In opposition, Clermont outclassed the blues during the 1st half but were too attentist and sloppy during the 2nd half. their last 5 minutes summed up their match, too irregular.

So, what did the difference?
A bit of experience from the Blues who perfectly this H-cup by building mind games and contest ferociously at the breakdown where they achieved to slow Clermont attacks
A bit of fitness? Certainly. No leinster players injured, and when u see that Byrne, Malzieu, Buttin, Bonnaire and Hines had to be replaced because of injuries, the problem of top14 calendar seems even more clear
A bit of poor referring... i don't like to point the ref as x-factor. but unfortunately, barnes had a bad day, and particularly vs clermont side. penalising the yellow strength in the scrums and taking some other weird decisions. i guess he won't be welcome in next jaunards matchs..
And maybe a bit of luck with this fofana bad grounding

This semi's was efectively the summit of the h-cup and Leinster survived, becoming glorious winners. don't know what to expect of this irish rabobank final, but the guys of BOD are now the clear favorites.

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Ronan O Mara May 02, 2012 3:58 pm

Google translate having a bit of a mare ROFL

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Fettsack May 03, 2012 6:40 pm

It's not google translate it's just a direct translation of french journalistic idiom.
("attentist" for example does not exist in english and is only used in sports in french)

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johndoe May 02, 2012 6:33 pm

They got hit hard, and got hurt. Don't blame that on the Top14 schedule. Clermont have a big squad and have been splashing money around recently. The schedule is not an excuse.

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Reality May 02, 2012 3:57 pm

Great game. It didn't have the attractive rugby I was hoping for, but the tension and the intensity were just wonderful. I can't see Leinster losing the final, but then again I didn't think Munster were going to lose in the quarter-final.

Is anyone else outraged though that Gordon Darcy is being celebrated in the Irish media as a hero for his tackle that prevented Fofana's try? I mean since Fofana got over the line and had his hands free to place the place down, obviously Darcy failed in his duty to tackle him. It was only Fofana's bad technique that saved the day.

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grumbo May 02, 2012 5:31 pm

i'm not outraged but your right on that one, if it was so good fofana would not have made it over the line! few less bicep curls in the gym and he may have gotten it :)

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mise May 02, 2012 4:07 pm

On Cullen:
Check on #20 Clermont getting revenge for 1st half Cullen's face tickle towards the end, when Clermont were parked on the line. It goes on and on and involved various types of dodginess. (Prob causes the blood on cullen's face at the end)

Re the 'punch': was cullen being blocked, or was he still part of the ruck?

Ref didn't have a mare, he was reasonable

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Cmon84 May 02, 2012 4:09 pm

How unsportsmanlike are CA's fans?
Really no need for the booing and whistling, unless it's for that girly dive.
Apart from that, great game! Both teams put their bodies on the line and what a finish...

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moddeur May 02, 2012 4:20 pm

Actually Clermont fans are considered to be among the best. Friendly as hell, great for providing entertainment, and none-booers. In this match they only mass-booed/whistled the kicker twice, on both occasions when they considered that Barnes had made a bad decision.
I personally like Wayne Barnes, no complaints there, but he sometimes lacks the guts to take hard decisions - there was one yellow card opportunity (D'Arcy kicking the ball away from the ruck, though blatantly offside), which I'm not saying should have been yellow, but should have at least had Barnes call D'Arcy over for a talk-down, as a warning of sorts.
Other than that it was a great achievement for Leinster, Clermont simply lacking strength at the end (and disadvantaged by early key injuries like Malzieu and Byrne). Leinster looked overall stronger than Clermont (particularly in the 2nd half), it's as simple as that!

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themull May 02, 2012 4:33 pm

Im sorry but Clermont were booing and whistling throughout the match from the first penalty for Leinster to their last one...They also booed every decision that didn't go there way incl knock ons...

Barnes had a bad day, but then again Barnes always has bad days..I rarely see him have good matches...

French fans in general tend to moan a lot during matches, no matter howclear cut a penalty decision was...After thee game I'm sure they're fine, but during it you can't deny it's a different kettle of fish...

personally Clermont deserved the win yesterday.>>With 5 minutes to go Leinster were out on their feet and Fofana really should have gotten the ball down...As usual BOD was amazing in defense and kept the dangerous midfield of Clermont quiet for much of the match..>IF it weren't for him in there Clermont would have likely put up a lot more points...

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moddeur May 02, 2012 6:10 pm

Well some whistles were heard from the first penalty to the last, but it wasn't a massive case of whistling, like on the two occasions I mention.
Of course this contrasts quite heavily with Irish fans who generally never boo.

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johndoe May 02, 2012 6:37 pm

They were booing a number of times when the referee quite clearly made the correct decision and sometimes just if they didn't like something that happened, even if it was legal. I'm pretty sure they were booing, etc. every time Sexton kicked, just once or twice they were particularly loud.

It did happen a lot though, no denying it.

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johndoe May 02, 2012 6:40 pm

They do have a great reputation though, don't mean to slate them just noticed there was a bit more than usual for this match.

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Cluainoir May 02, 2012 6:54 pm

The booing of the Clermont fans is counter productive as well as unsportsman like. Any referee who is constantly berated like that is bound to say to himself "f**k them, i'll give them reason to boo". As for booing a kicker while he is taking a penalty, that is disgraceful.

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cafnc1 May 02, 2012 5:05 pm

am I the only one thinking that the last penalty should be awarded to clermont instead of leinster? o'brian wasn't the tackler, i guess that's clear. way before he puts his hands on the ball we have a clermont player on the ground and rougerie on top plus another player coming, so that's a ruck. then, it should be a penalty for clermont, ruck formed no hands on the ball if you're not the tackler. right?

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Mac_Chops May 02, 2012 5:31 pm

O'Brien is second man in after tackler, entitled to go for the ball.

Rougerie then comes flying in and goes straight off his feet anyway so even if he managed to get through SOB he would have been killing the ball. The other man driving the player with Rougerie spins off his feet and out of the ruck too.

Next man then comes in and tries/fails to clear O'Brien at which point he already had a good cut at ripping the ball...simple penalty anywhere on the park!

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Full Back May 02, 2012 5:58 pm

I hope so, it would be madness otherwise. Rougerie came from the side and both his knees were touching the ground while the Clermont forward (didn't see which one) simply dived into SoB's back, which if nothing else proves that he got there late and so no ruck had been legally formed.
As for no hands on the ball if you're not the tackler...it's actually better if you're not the tackler going in to steal the ball, then there's no questions about weather you released before stealing or not.
You just need to be on your feet and in before the ruck was formed.
Personally I think it could have been a foul a few seconds beforehand as the No.20 went in from the side with a headbutt on Cullen before trying to mould his face into another shape (can't get much worse I suppose)
Should be a great final, Leinster to win I reckon.

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Alex May 02, 2012 11:42 pm

I actually believe that marginally O'Brien committed a penalty here as I think his hands came in just too late. However, did Rougerie hit from the side? Interesting one!

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Full Back May 03, 2012 8:39 am

Yeah his feet are well outside "the gate", ie between the fallen players head and feet so he's in from the side. That being the case(added to knees on the ground) it wasn't a valid ruck and so O'Brien wasn't late.

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Eggman May 03, 2012 9:35 am

I don't really see how you Rougerie is in from the side, since the ruck hasn't formed yet when he joins. He seems to be pushing the ball carrier and thus enteres the ruck/tackle at the same time as him. However, I agreee that O'Brien rightfully contested for the ball and deserved the penalty.

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Full Back May 03, 2012 11:54 am

Well if you want to form a ruck you have to come in straight and link with your own player. There's an imaginary "gate" which goes from the fallen players head to his feet, you have to be within that gate, otherwise you enter from the side and so it can't be considered a ruck but rather a tackle on O'Brien. If SoB hadn't had his hands on the ball it would technically have been a tackle without the ball....just to be nit picky ;)

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Full Back May 03, 2012 11:54 am

Well if you want to form a ruck you have to come in straight and link with your own player. There's an imaginary "gate" which goes from the fallen players head to his feet, you have to be within that gate, otherwise you enter from the side and so it can't be considered a ruck but rather a tackle on O'Brien. If SoB hadn't had his hands on the ball it would technically have been a tackle without the ball....just to be nit picky ;)

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Curates_Egg May 02, 2012 5:17 pm

As someone who was at the game, I would like to redress some of the uninformed comments here about the Clermont fans. They were outstanding before, during and after and very gracious in defeat around Bordeaux after. Booing and whistling at kicks and after decisions is par for the course in France.
There was little or no moaning after the game though. They recognised that they had been at a cracking contest and lacked the smarts and fitness to win it.
Barnes definitely made some bad decisions...but for both sides. On balance, I think he managed the game well.
Clermont will learn from this and hopefully come back stronger...and maybe win the thing next year if they keep the same squad or improve it.

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Full Back May 02, 2012 5:53 pm

As someone who watched it on TV I found the constant booing on behalf of the Clermont fans irritating to say the least. Being at the game doesn't make you more informed, if anything you miss quite a few incidents that the TV angles show.
Nobody said that Clermont fans aren't great hosts once the game is over, just that they booed excessively during the game.

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Curates_Egg May 03, 2012 9:31 am

You may miss camera angles at games but what you do not miss is atmosphere and the actual behaviour of fans. That is what my comment relates to and being at the game leaves me in a much better position to judge it.

I reserved my judgement on the game and refereeing performance until I had watched the game in the cold light of day. My conclusion: the smarter team won and the ref had a generally good performance with questionable calls on both sides: Clermont could have had a red card at the death and should have had Rougerie binned in the first half....all things I didn't see at the game.

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Full Back May 03, 2012 10:03 am

Sorry but I just don't agree, you can clearly hear booing and it was rather irritating. Nobody's implying that Clermont fans are hooligans or anything. But I watch alot of rugby and have rarely heard anything like what could be heard on Sunday. Lots of times the boo's could be clearly heard even when the decision was cut and dry, so hardly great sportsmanship there in my opinion. Are you going to tell me you didn't hear constant whistles and booing from where you were? I've been in the stands a number of times and continue to disagree that being there leaves you in a better position to judge the behaviour that's being referred to here, we're not talking about how they were when having a beer after the game, simply pointing out what can clearly be heard when you watch the game. Hardly worth disputing as quite a number of people have noticed the same thing. Hardly fair to refer to the comments as "uninformed" either, the wonders of modern technology bring the sounds in dolby surround into our living rooms quite clearly.

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Curates_Egg May 03, 2012 10:28 am

I would venture you don't watch much Top14 or go to many games of rugby in France so. If you find booing and whistling "irritating" I wouldn't recommend you start either.

Leinster played two games in France this season - both of which I attended. The booing and whistling in their first game (against Montpellier) was far more pronounced. Personally, I don't find it "irritating" in the slightest, as it is part and parcel of the atmosphere of passionate rugby support in France.

I would reiterate my point that you get much better insight into close calls and refereeing decisions by watching games on TV. If you honestly believe that you somehow are better placed to judge on atmosphere or fan behaviour by sitting on your couch, well good for you...but I will stick to my belief...and stick to going to games.

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Full Back May 03, 2012 10:49 am

I would suggest that you re read my post as I didn't say anything about atmosphere, rather about a certain behaviour, in this case booing at the kicker and ref, it's something that can be heard quite clearly. I'm anything but a couch potatoe and have already pointed out that I've attended my fair share of games and will continue to do so, as a player and spectator.
I disagree that the booing was much more pronounced in the Montpellier game, but I guess that's a matter of opinion. I've watched quite a bit of top14 actually and have played against a few french teams in my time. Even at semi-pro level I find that their sportsmanship is somewhat lacking.
I disagree that whistling and booing against an opposing team is akin to passion for the game, it's rather a sign of not being able to simply support your team and trust that they can win on their merits.
That it's par for the course in France was never in question, that you describe anyone who wasn't at the game personally as "uninformed" is. I find it quite arrogant and presumptious to be honest.

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Curates_Egg May 03, 2012 10:53 am

I would also then suggest that you re-read my first post, which you commented on, which sparked this off...which refers specifically to the atmosphere and the general behaviour of the Clermont fans.

However, how about: you are right? I imagine you are someone who always has to be - in a non-arrogant or presumptuous way - to be honest. Good luck with that.

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Full Back May 03, 2012 11:37 am

I have read it and have referred to it in my last post. But if you'd like me to be specific fair enough.
"As someone who was at the game, I would like to redress some of the uninformed comments here about the Clermont fans. They were outstanding before, during and after and very gracious in defeat around Bordeaux after. Booing and whistling at kicks and after decisions is par for the course in France. "

It's quite rich of you to imagine that I always have to be right. I'm not the one who described opinions that don't coincide with mine as "uninformed", and certainly wouldn't presume to redress the opinions of others as you have, with an opinion of my own.
In my opinion, being outstanding during a game does not coincide with booing or whistling, it's an opinion, not a right or wrong and it doesn't depend on what's par for the course or not. It doesn't make me ill informed and I don't need to qualify myself by pointing out where I was during the game. Good luck with what exactly?

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Guest 10 May 02, 2012 5:36 pm

I'm actually new at Rugby so I didn't quite understand what, specifically, the last penalty was awarded for?
I first thought it was for not releasing the ball. But as it was a ruck, I think it would turn out to be a penalty for Clermont.

Someone?

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grumbo May 02, 2012 5:49 pm

you had it right, it was for not releasing the ball. Sean O'Brien, the guy who won the penalty, was not the tackler and got his hands on the ball before a ruck was formed, the guy on the ground did not release which lead to the penalty.

that's how i saw it anyway, i'm sure a Clermont fan will see it completely differently!

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Mac_Chops May 02, 2012 5:55 pm

You have to be on your feet for a ruck to be formed. If you look at the end again, you'll see that both Rougerie and the 6 go off their feet immediately = no ruck formed.

O'Brien (Leinster 6) stays on his feet supporting his own weight and makes an effort to rip the ball = penalty for not releasing.

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grumbo May 02, 2012 5:46 pm

Exciting match, that's what the HC is all about. Clermont fans were amazing before during and after the match, the best fans in the world imo.
trying to keep my opinion unbiased, and after watching the game again i don't think that Barnes was as bad as most people seem to think he was. ESPN have the penalty count even at 14 each and both sides proboably should have gotten yellow cards (Darcy using his feet and Rougerie killing leinster ball metres out from the line in the first half).
Clermont were definitely dominant in the scrums but scrum dominance does not automatically equal penalties, leinster have to actually do something wrong and i think the leinster pack did well to limit them.
Rob kearney was immense again, and it was good to see Sean O'Brien playing his best game for a while. On the Clermont side Zirickashvili was incredible, Hines was great as usual and that guy who came on for Byrne i think had a good game too.
so, great game, great atmosphere, great result!

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Exeterunirugby May 02, 2012 6:40 pm

Im a big leinster fan but can someone clear something up for me.

Obrien, was on his feet, but wasnt supporting his own bodyweight at the turnover that won the match?

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johndoe May 02, 2012 6:48 pm

I'd like so see another angle to be honest. Barnes could see it better than this camera angle shows.

I want to know why he didn't penalise number 20 for that dirty headbutt on Cullen just before. Charging in and goes straight for his head. Pathetic cheap shot. Then he starts grabbing and shoving his hands in his face.

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GraceOfBod May 02, 2012 7:18 pm

Great tackle by fitzgerald at 1:40.

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donkeyballs4000 May 03, 2012 3:48 am

It was a beaut! Part of me wished that the whistle hadn't gone just so he could have been credited with that amazing try saver.

Clermont did a good job of keeping our men out wide quiet. Fitzy must have been screaming at Kearney for not passing the ball to him later on.

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Guy May 02, 2012 9:42 pm

Pathetic dive by the French prop. Great call by Barnes to not give Cullen a yellow. I really wish more refs will deal with it that way: 'should have been a yellow, you took a dive, too bad for you...'

Terrific defense by Leinster in the end.

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Canafrikaaner May 02, 2012 10:40 pm

Intense game! Can't wait for finals baby:)

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mise May 02, 2012 11:32 pm

Can someone please explain to me why O Brien...


oh wait.

Its all there. Already. just above.

Comments- they're sometimes actually worth reading. Well, other ones are. Not this one. Thou, it kinda is.

sheesh.

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Reality May 03, 2012 1:45 am

A point well made mise.

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stroudos May 03, 2012 8:40 am

Ha ha, nice one.

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Canadian content May 03, 2012 2:17 am

RD please post a replay or another angle of the Leinster try, I can't really tell what happened

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Curates_Egg May 03, 2012 9:33 am

Amen to that. I was looking forward to seeing replays on the highlights, as I only the saw the try as it happened in the stadium. Ball goes left to Strauss, who delays for a split second before popping back inside to Kearney who takes an excellent line cutting through the Clermont drift defence....

However the angle in the clip above is pants.

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Curates_Egg May 03, 2012 10:48 am

If you don't mind the Irish-language commentary, you can watch the try on these highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu8vuHpUP-I
The move starts on around 30 seconds and there is one decent replay. The gap opens right up in the drift defence, Strauss waits a second and pops back inside to Kearney on a great line. One thing I hadn't noticed is the off-the-ball shoulder barge on Boss by either Cudmore or Hynes just after Kearney has gone through.

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Rugbydump May 03, 2012 11:28 am

Here you go - the Cian Healy try with replays etc (English commentary)

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redwan_ May 03, 2012 3:05 pm

At 0.15 in that clip you just linked, the Leinster 9 gets absolutely floored miles off the ball! Clermont player is very lucky to get away with that!

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Reality May 03, 2012 4:41 pm

I didn't notice that. That kind of nullifies the argument that Cullen was lucky not to get a yellow for his punch on Faure. This seems to be way worse. At least Cullen was being held and so had some justification.

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Reality May 03, 2012 4:45 pm

Actually I just realised it was Cudmore. There's a surprise.

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Gav May 03, 2012 8:08 pm

Is Cudmore the biggest idiot in world rugby today? I suggest yes.

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johndoe May 04, 2012 12:52 pm

I thought Cudmore had a clean game for a change...

It's funny how Sky sports make such a big deal of Cullen's yellow card and their minor penalties or exaggerate them or repeatedly reference them throughout the match (well, specifically Stuart Barnes) and they don't say a word about things like the headbutt on Cullen and this shoulder charge. Two very dirty bits of play much worse than anything Leinster did, and not a single word on them. I wonder what that's about.

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Rugbydump May 03, 2012 5:35 pm

I meant to mention that when pasting the link. Looks like it was Cudmore on Boss. Collision plus follow through. Boss hopped up shortly after though

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mise May 03, 2012 11:13 pm

He'd never miss a chance like that, old Cuddily boots, would he?
Perhaps the worst disciplinary record of any well known player.

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Tullowtank May 04, 2012 2:19 pm

I remember seeing that hit in the match but quickly forgot about it because Leinster went on to score and win the match. Disgraceful play though, you can see Cudmore stop, see nobody around him and then launch into Boss with his every intention to hurt him. Amazed to see he wasn't cited, he's deserving of a ban for acts of violence like that. There is plenty of room within the rules to hammer somebody into the ground in Rubgy and it be fair but that was just a player acting like a cheap thug. Proof yet again that Cudmore (if it definately was him to did it, I can't tell in the clip) is a highly unintelligent human being. Have to pity players as stupid as him.

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Kiwiana May 15, 2012 1:23 pm

Ah good to see some boys in there who have come from the Super rugby or provincial rugby systems and adapting their game to the Northern hemisphere, as well as the Ulster game with Edinburgh, a few Kiwis and some South Africans who have played a vital part in bringing these teams to where they are now. Ofcourse it's a team sport, and i'm not trying to ride off rugby in Europe either, it's just good to see some faces from the Southern hemisphere bringing their, I suppose Sourthern hemisphere style of rugby to the Europe teams. I enjoy watching rugby in that part of the world.
I'm kind of feeling a victory for Ulster on saturday.

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