Heineken Cup champions Leinster face a large conflict in Sunday’s semi-final in Bordeaux opposite a star-studded, in-form, Clermont side.
After a unblemished contest so far, Leinster are still on lane to turn usually a second bar (after Leicester) to win back-to-back titles though confronting Clermont in France is a ultimate plea in European rugby these days.
Les Jaunards can exaggerate a 42-game dominant strain during their outpost in Clermont-Ferrand and nonetheless Bordeaux is a three-and-a-half-hour expostulate west, design Stade Chaban-Delmas to be awash with yellow and blue jerseys and lonesome with a banners of a Ultras Vulcans supporters club.
As Saracens found out in a quarter-finals, when a Clermont fans find their voice – and they always do – a aged clich of a 16th male in a stands becomes a unequivocally genuine component to understanding with.
Indeed a unequivocally fact that Leinster contingency transport to France is estimable of a lifted eyebrow. Despite Clermont carrying mislaid to Ulster and Leicester in a pool stages while Leinster swept all before them, a fitness of a foolish pull means that a Irish side will be a divided organisation when it matters most.
But Joe Schmidt’s side will not dwell on a matter. Leinster are dominant in their final 13 European matches and have been in harmful form recently carrying dejected Cardiff in their quarter-final, before violence both of a other semi-finalists – Edinburgh and Ulster – in a PRO12.
What’s more, a Dubliners will have useful discernment into how a Clermont side functions. Schmidt knows Clermont improved than many carrying coached their back-line for 3 years, including their 2010 Top 14 title-winning campaign.
Perennial underachievers in Europe, Clermont have done claiming their initial Heineken Cup climax their series one priority in their centenary season. And so distant so good as they emerged tip of arguably a toughest organisation in a foe and went on to surpass Sarries in a quarter-finals.
With severe continue forecast, Clermont’s arrangement during Vicarage Road – where they didn’t browbeat possession though were determined on defence, and executed clinically when opportunities presented themselves – will have Leinster worried. An arm-wrestle is not what a Irish side want, as a hallmark Vern Cotter’s organisation is their calm and their ability say numbers in a defensive line though being sucked into rucks.
Clermont have done 3 changes to a starting XV that kick Montpellier final week as French internationals Julien Malzieu and Aurlien Rougerie lapse while maestro side Julien Bonnaire comes in for a harmed Gerhard Vosloo.
For Leinster, Gordon D’Arcy partners Brian O’Driscoll during centre with Luke Fitzgerald fasten Isa Nacewa – who will make his 99th Leinster coming – and Rob Kearney in a behind three. Isaac Boss links adult with Jonathan Sexton – who has scored 77 points to date in this year’s foe – during half-back.
24-year-old column Cian Healy, who creates his 94th Leinster career coming and his 36th in Europe, starts in a front-row alongside Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross.
Leo Cullen leads a organisation and partners All Black Brad Thorn during lock, with Shane Jennings fasten associate Ireland internationals Sean O’Brien and a returning Jamie Heaslip in a back-row.
These teams have faced any other 5 times with Leinster a winners on 4 occasions though a fact that they final tasted Heineken Cup better when they went down 20-13 during Clermont final deteriorate will not be mislaid on Cullen and his team-mates.
Players to watch:
For Clermont: Having played a wilful purpose in Clermont’s feat during Vicarage Road, Brock James went some approach to wiping divided a memories of his calamity meltdown in a quarter-final opposite Leinster dual seasons ago. He’s been in enormous form given and with David Skrela out injured, a Australian will be called on to drive a ASM conflict again. He has a far-reaching arsenal of kicking options that will yield copiousness of opportunities for his line-out jumpers as good as balls to follow down for wings Sitiveni Sivivatu and Julien Malzieu. Georgian column David Zirakashvili‘s work-rate is unusual though there have been suggestions in a Irish press that Leinster will aim him during scrum time. With lethal place kickers on possibly side, how English arbitrate Wayne Barnes interprets a set-piece showdown could yield a pivotal to a result.
For Leinster: The one-and-only Brian O’Driscoll noted his lapse from damage in classical character opposite a Blues, and Leinster will demeanour to their favourite son to spearhead their attack. BOD now lies only a singular try behind Vincent Clerc’s record of 32 in a competition, a symbol of his grant to Leinster’s means over a years. The Leinster Players’ Player of a Year Rob Kearney is arguably a form full-back in Europe during a impulse and Leinster will aim to get him concerned while Sean O’Brien will have copiousness of work to do in a soppy weather.
Head-to-heads: A Heineken Cup leader with Leinster 11 months ago, Nathan Hines has also been in primary form and will wish to work out a Irish team’s line-out. But he’ll be adult opposite one of a best in a business in a form of World Cup-winner Brad Thorn, who has tender given nearing in Dublin. The conflict during outward centre will be universe category as Aurlien Rougerie faces off with Brian O’Driscoll. Both group are executive to their particular team’s game-plans, creation their duel crucial.
Prediction: Very, unequivocally tough to call. It unequivocally could go possibly way. The bookies are giving a sides accurately a same odds. The ‘home’ throng will positively assistance a French organisation though it’s unequivocally formidable to disagree with a movement Leinster are carrying during a moment. Leinster to corner it in additional time!
Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurlien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Elvis Vermeulen, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Lionel Faure.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Julien Bardy, 21 Ludovic Radoslavjevic , 22 Regan King, 23 Jean-Marcel Buttin.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Isa Nacewa, 13 Brian O’Driscoll, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Brad Thorn, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke outpost der Merwe, 18 Nathan White, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Kevin McLaughlin 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fergus McFadden.
Date: Sunday, Apr 29
Venue: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux
Kick-off: 16.00 internal (15.00 BST/ 14.00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
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