Heineken Cup

Leinster hold off a Clermont Auvergne siege in a thrilling finale to win their Heineken Cup semi-final 19-15 in Bordeaux and book an all-Irish final against Ulster.

29 April 2012 Last updated at 17:12

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As it happened


    That's about that for semi-final weekend, then. Join us again for the final - Ulster v Leinster at Twickenham on 19 May. Should be special. Night.


    From Sarah Mockford on Twitter: "What a game, what a finish!! Well played Leinster and Clermont - and special mention to Rob Kearney. Love love love the Heineken Cup."


    From Nathan Murtagh on Twitter: "Fantastic from Leinster. Now here's hoping they, and Ulster, can recreate this form when they're all wearing green."

    From James Tonkinson on Twitter: "Amazing semi final! An all-Irish affair in the final despite Ireland's poor Six Nations! Shows they mean business."


    From England World Cup winner Matt Dawson on Twitter: "Wow what a game of rugby!! I've not seen anything like it for years. Irish rugby flying at the moment. Well done Ulster and Leinster."


    So Leinster hang on to a sensational win - 19-15 against Clermont Auvergne in Bordeaux. What a finish. Stunning. Boos ring out around the Stade Chelmas Chaban Delmas from the disgruntled French fans. Leinster are only the second team from GB or Ireland to win a semi-final in France. Munster have done it twice, in 2000 and 2002.


    78 mins: Leinster put-in to the scrum five metres from their line. Clermont drive, it wheels around and ref Barnes re-sets. Leinster's front row collapses and Clermont tap and go. The forwards burrow forward, yards away. Advantage coming Clermont's way - they take another tap and drive. They are punding on the door time and again. Surely they will get over ...but ref Barnes awards Leinster a penalty and the Irishmen hug each other. Sexton pumps it into the crowd and that's it. All over. Leinster will play Ulster in the final at Twickenham.


    77 mins: Riotous noise from the partisan crowd as Clermont surge to within a few metres. Bonnaire, back on as a blood injury, makes the first decisive dart for the line before Fofana gets over the line and drops it as he hits the floor. The TV ref is called into action again and he says.....no try. It seems fair - he hit his own bicep with the ball and spilled it forward.


    75 mins: Leinster ticking the clock down well. Probing the left corner with kicks and tackling furiously to keep Clermont's forays at bay. But then a penalty goes against them and Clermont smash it down into Leinster's half. A free kick comes the French side's way and they work the Leinster defensive line with repeated forward thrusts.


    72 mins: Clermont enjoying a precious few minutes in possession as they inch forward. But eventually Leinster skipper Leo Cullen intercepts in midfield to break up the momentum. Leinster earn a line-out on the left and Reddan tries a snap drop-goal, which misses, to the chagrin of his team-mates.


    70 mins: Another pause as Clermont's Buttin is treated for a knock. Leinster press again and O'Driscoll's cute offload takes the blue shirts a few more metres into French territory. Clermont are impatient with their defence and Wayne Barnes gives Leinster another penalty. Sexton rocks up for his fifth kick and the baby-faced assassin smacks it high and postwards...but the ref needs to ask the TV official if he can give it. The answer comes back....no, it's right over the top of the right upright and not clearly through so no score. Big let off for Clermont.


    66 mins: Leinster tightening their grip on this as Brian O'Driscoll sends a smart grubber kick into touch near the French line. Clermont clear but Leinster blindside Sean O'Brien finds himself in the open and steams back at them. He opts to try a chip over Morgan Parra's head but it goes straight into the Frenchman's arms and Leinster's half chance goes begging.


    64 mins: For Leinster, McLaughlin is on for Jennings in the back row, Cronin on for Strauss at hooker. Clermont have swapped hookers - Paulo for Kayser and Bardy on for Bonnaire at flanker.

    PENALTY - Sexton - Clermont 15-19 Leinster

    62 mins: Clermont scrum in midfield after a bit of a pause in proceedings for a flat ball. Leinster time the put-in and surge forward, like a lorry taking off downhill. They turn it over and recycle a few times before inching to within yards of the Clermont line. A white wall faces them and an almighty ruck ensues but ref Barnes says the ball is not coming back and Leinster are awarded a penalty. They decide to play the percentages and spurn a run at the line for a kick at goal. Sexton lofts it high into France's cloudy south-western sky and through the posts.


    56 mins: Interesting one, this. Nathan Hines goes off for Clermont. Had a good game. Julien Pierre on instead. Hhhmm.


    55 mins: South African Heinke van der Merwe on at prop for Cian Healy for Leinster.


    54 mins: Some great offloading between the Clermont players as they rumble upfield. Sivivatu having a good game, Rougerie involved too and Wayne Barnes awards them a penalty after Leinster are ruled to be lying on the ball too often. Barnes has a word with Leinster skipper Leo Cullen, warning him they must get away from the ball...or else.


    52 mins: Eoin Reddan on for Isaac Boss at scrum-half for Leinster.

    PENALTY - James - Clermont 15-16 Leinster

    51 mins: Rob Kearney sets off on a counter but he's ruled to be hanging on to the ball in the ruck and James makes amends this time with a 40m job from midfield.


    50 mins: Clermont's Brock James tries a drop-goal of his own that misses the target but Leinster's Nacewa gives away a penalty by leaving his leg in the way in a ruck. James steps up, a few metres from the left touchline, but the ball wobbles and weaves in the air and misses right.

    DROP-GOAL - Kearney - Clermont 12-16 Leinster

    47 mins: Clermont answer with a bullying attack deep into Leinster territory. The Irish province clear but Rougerie catches it one-handed and sets off back at them. But Kearney gets hold of it and launches a missile back and finds touch close to the Clermont line. From the line-out, Clermont's attempted clearance kick doesn't find touch and Kearney bangs a drop-goal over from the left touchline. The full-back's dander is up and he is putting in a big individual effort to turn this around for his side.

    CONVERTED TRY - Healy - Clermont 12-13 Leinster

    42 mins: Clermont lay out their stall early and take a run through the backs but Buttin's pass goes to ground. But then..and it's a big BUT...from a ruck in midfield, Leinster go left and then right, Kearney takes an inside ball and motors in behind Clermont's defence before feeding thundering prop Cian Healy on his left for the try. Sexton converts. That puts a different complexion on it, then.


    41mins: Back atcha from Bordeaux and a great view on Sky of Clermont captain Aurelien Rougerie in the middle of his encircled players delivering the second-half plan. Another huddle on the paddock as Leinster run out and Sexton gets us under way. Big 40 mins coming up. Strap yourself in.


    From James Tonkinson on Twitter: "My tickets to the #HeinekenCup final sitting on my desk. A Leinster vs Ulster final would be much appreciated." Would you take one out of two? Leinster have got work to do against this slick and fired-up French side. But Leinster's backs have caused problems, too, with quick passing opening up big holes. Error count currently hurting them, though.


    40 mins: That's the break, then and it can't come too soon for Leinster who need to re-organise and get their heads together. Strong finish to the half by Clermont, who look the more likely winners at this stage. Big team talks coming up.

    PENALTY - James - Clermont 12-6 Leinster

    38 mins: Messy in the Leinster ranks as Cian Healy fires out a loose, speculative ball from the back of his hand to no-one in particular and his team-mates are forced to scramble to tidy up. Clermont scrum just inside Leinster's half and they win another penalty as Healy comes under pressure in the front row. Brock James, sporting a generous beard which makes him look like a badger (a brock is badger, you see) opens up a six-point gap.

    PENALTY - James - Clermont 9-6 Leinster

    36 mins: Big pile up just inside Leinster's half. Julien Bonnaire appears to be hanging onto the ball but Leinster are penalised for coming in at the side and James takes advantage.

    PENALTY - Sexton - Clermont 6-6 Leinster

    33 mins: Sivivatu takes out Nacewa and Leinster are awarded a penalty where Sexton's high kick lands. The fly-half trots up, puffs out his cheeks three, four, five times, eyes up the posts, licks his lips and strokes it over. Back in the ball game.

    PENALTY - James - Clermont 6-3 Leinster

    29 mins: Clermont press again and earn the advantage when Nacewa joins a ruck from the side. Parra has a free shot at goal but it's lame. No matter. Brock James steps up to place the ball for a penalty, which he strokes calmly through the middle.


    27 mins: Clermont looking increasingly dangerous. Lovely hands from Sivivatu, James and Buttin takes them to within metres of Leinster's line but the ball is eventually turned over. Leinster's scrum goes backwards under their posts but ref Wayne Barnes gives Leinster a penalty and Sexton's boot eases the pressure.


    24 mins: Clermont lock Jamie Cudmore is off his feet as Leinster creep into their half and Sexton pumps the ball into touch from the penalty. Nothing much comes of it and from a scrum James thumps it upfield. Kearney makes it 15-15 but James gathers and weaves his way through Leinster's defence to within sniffing distance of the Irish line. Kearney, in turn, sticks him on the deck and Clermont keep it moving to the right before Rougerie's pass goes awry.


    21 mins: Clermont up the ante and Sivivatu sets off on a dash up the right wing and finds Nathan Hines rumbling up on his inside. The ball goes left to James and then Rougerie near the touchline and Clermont recycle back to the right. It's fast, it's slick and they carve a gaping hole in Leinster's backline but they are called back for a Hines forward pass. It's all going on - Byrne is off injured and now there's a bit of biffo for good measure as Leo Cullen slaps Clermont prop Davit Zirakashvili, who takes a spectacular dive to the floor.

    PENALTY - James - Clermont 3-3 Leinster

    16 mins: Clermont grind their way forward from the Leinster attack and they force a penalty when Boss is isolated. Brock James thumps it through the sticks and we're level.


    13 mins: Leinster's backs are beginning to cut Clermont open with their passing. Sexton, O'Driscoll, Kearney, Nacewa and the Auckland-born Fijian chips ahead, causing panic in French ranks. Sivivatu gathers over the try line and Clermont clear, of a fashion.


    11 mins: Leinster prop Cian Healy putting in some hard yards and sticks Malzieu on his backside to force the turnover. Leinster win a penalty just in Clermont's half but Sexton opts to pump it into the left corner instead of going for the posts. Turns out Malzieu has been hurt and goes off, with Buttin coming on. Wales full-back Lee Bryne thumps a long clearance kick into the stands to ease the pressure.


    9 mins: Aussie fly-half Brock James tries a long-range drop-goal for Clermont. It has the legs but he slices it a touch right. Soon after, Clermont try the through-the-hands route but Rougerie can't quite get his fingertips on it.

    PENALTY - Sexton - Clermont 0-3 Leinster

    6 mins: Leinster make the first meaningful foray into the opposition 22 with some good handling through Kearney to Nacewa on the right wing. The move breaks down but they win a penalty and Sexton slots it over.

    From Gregor Cubie on Twitter: "Hopefully both teams will try and run the ball and we won't get stuck in a game of Kearney vs Byrne up-and-under pingpong!" Not so far, Gregor.


    3 mins: Both sides probing early on. The big Clermont prop Zirakashvili has a rumble, the French side try an up-and-under and then Jonathan Sexton makes a lovely silky break for Leinster before spilling the ball in the open. O'Driscoll manages a big early hit on Rougerie, too, just to spice things up.


    2 mins: Clermont kick off in bright sunlight. They pile into the Leinster pack and the champions recycle and run it immediately through the hands to the right. Clermont turn it over and have a crack themsleves, first right, then left through skipper Rougerie. No break yet. A ruck on the left, Leinster bundled back but Boss charges into French territory. But Leinster's forwards go straight off their feet and Clermont win a penalty.


    1458: One final thought for you. The last team to beat Leinster in the Heineken Cup? Yep, Clermont, in a group match in December 2010. Ready? Here come the teams.


    1454:From Dan Doran-O'Reilly on Twitter: "Leinster at 11/10, if they win and my tweet gets on #bbcrugbyunion my life will be complete." I've done my bit. Leinster, over to you.


    1452: A dry day but windy in Bordeaux. Sizeable swathes of blue-clad Leinster fans waving flags and in good voice in the stadium. Opposite them, large chunks of blue and yellow sported by the huge Clermont faithful.


    1450: Leinster coach Joe Schmidt explains the Boss and Jennings changes by saying the previous incumbents had niggles early in the week. "We needed to get as much clarity as we could as early as we could in the week," he said.


    1447: Here's today's teams in full for your delectation...

    Clermont Auvergne: Lee Byrne; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Aurelien Rougerie (capt), Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu; Brock James, Morgan Parra; Lionel Faure, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili; Jamie Cudmore, Nathan Hines; Julien Bonnaire, Alexandre Lapandry, Elvis Vermeulen.

    Replacements: Ti'i Paulo, Vincent Debaty, Daniel Kotzen, Julien Pierre, Julien Bardy, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Regan King, Jean-Marcel Buttin.

    Leinster: Rob Kearney; Isa Nacewa, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Leo Cullen (capt), Brad Thorn; Sean O'Brien, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip

    Replacements: Sean Cronin, Heinke van der Merwe, Nathan White, Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden


    1445: Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has sprung a surprise by naming Isaac Boss instead of Eoin Reddan at scrum-half. Gordon D'Arcy returns to partner Brian O'Driscoll at centre with Isa Nacewa and Luke Fitzgerald named on the wings. Shane Jennings is preferred to Kevin McLaughlin in a back row which also welcomes back Jamie Heaslip. Nacewa takes over from David Kearney for the holders with D'Arcy's inclusion seeing Fergus McFadden dropping to the bench.

    France fly-half David Skrela is ruled out for Clermont by a thigh injury so Australian Brock James will start at number 10 for Vern Cotter's side.

    James starred in the quarter-final win over Saracens after coming on as an early replacement so his inclusion may not significantly weaken Clermont.


    1440: If you fancy getting involved with the chat, drop us a text on 81111or tweet us using #bbcrugbyunion. Let's do this together. It's more fun that way.


    1435: Clermont, a coming force in French rugby, are flying high in the Top 14 League, in second place and tied on points with leaders Toulouse. Their formidable back division includes French internationals Aurelien Rougerie, Morgan Parra, Wesley Fofana and Julien Malzieu along with Welsh star Lee Byrne and All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu. Clermont's pack includes Scotland's Nathan Hines, who helped Leinster win the competition last year. In the last four for the first time, they beat Saracens 22-3 to make the semis.

    Leinster, who are 10-point leaders in the Rabo Pro12 table, are the defending Heineken Cup champions, also won in 2009 and are unbeaten in 13 matches in the competition. They beat Cardiff Blues 34-3 to make the semis and also edged Clermont 29-28 in the quarter-finals two seasons ago. Their headline act is Ireland and Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll, but it is a side where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.


    1430: Afternoon all. Ready for a heady feast of passion, intensity, blood and guts? Smashing. You're in the right place. Welcome to live text commentary on the second Heineken Cup semi-final between Clermont Auvergne and Leinster. After Ulster's pulsating 22-19 semi-final win against Edinburgh on Saturday, we can look forward to more of the same in Bordeaux.

    Ulster were inspired by man-of-the-match Ruan Pienaar, who kicked 17 points to go with Pedrie Wannenburg's try. But Pienaar warns there could be more to come from Ulster. "We'll need to improve for the final. We weren't at our best but we managed to play not that well and still win. At Twickenham we'll be facing either Leinster or Clermont, who are fantastic sides. It's going to be a tough one but we have a squad that are right up there."

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