Clermont beat Munster to reach Heineken Cup final

Clermont booked their first Heineken Cup final when they beat Munster 16-10 in their Semi-final after holding off a comeback from the Irish men.

The French Top 14 leaders will face either compatriots Toulon or English Premiership
pacesetters Saracens, who play at Twickenham on Sunday, in the May 18 final.

Fijian winger Napolioni Nalaga scored a try for Clermont while France scrum-half
Morgan Parra kicked 11 points.

Clermont totally dominated the first period but dogged defence from the 2006
and 2008 champions kept the score at a respectable 13-3 at the break.

And when replacement Denis Hurley crossed midway through the second period
to reduce the arrears to 16-10, Clermont knew they were in a dogfight.

But the Vulcans held out to make up for last year’s painful 19-15 reverse to
Leinster in Bordeaux at the same stage.

Munster were first on the scoreboard as veteran fly-half Ronan O’Gara stroked
over a penalty from 30 yards after Clermont were pinged for collapsing a maul.

But those were the only points the Irish province scored in the first period.

The opening try for Clermont on nine minutes came after a searing break from
former New Zealand wing Sitiveni Sivivatu stretched the Munster defence.

Clermont went wide right and then spun the ball left where they had a huge
overlap, although Nalaga ignored his outside support and stepped inside through
a gap to score just to the left of the posts.

Parra knocked over two penalties inside the first 17 minutes but thereafter
Clermont failed to make their dominance count on the scoreboard.

Munster would have been relieved to be trailing by just 10 points at the break,
although they blew a chance to reduce the deficit just before half-time as their
forwards lost the ball in contact as they banged away at the home try line.

Another Parra penalty stretched Clermont’s lead but O’Gara rolled back the
years with a cleverly disguised grubber to send Hurley over in the right corner,
before also adding the extras.

Clermont almost committed suicide as Nalaga dallied over a bouncing ball just
in front of his line and two Munster players came close to capitalising before
the French scrambled the ball to safety.

And when the final whistle sounded it signalled wild scenes of celebration
both on the pitch and in the stands as Clermont’s long wait to reach a European
Cup final came to an end.

Final Score Clermont Auvergne 16 (13) Munster 10 (3)

Scorers

Clermont Auvergne
Tries: Nalaga
Cons: Parra
Pens: Parra 3

Munster
Tries: Hurley
Cons: O’Gara
Pens: O’Gara

Match Officials
Referee:
Nigel Owens (Wal),
Assistant ref: Leighton Hodges (Wal),
Assistant ref: Ian Davies (Wal),
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wal),
Citing Commissioner: Douglas Hunter (Sco)

Teams

ASM Clermont Auvergne: Lee Byrne; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Regan King, Wesley Fofana, Napolioni Nalaga; Brock James, Morgan Parra; Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Jamie Cudmore, Nathan Hines, Julien Bonnaire (c), Julien Bardy, Damien Chouly.

Replacements: Ti’I Paulo, Vincent Debaty, Clement Ric, Julien Pierre, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radosavljevic, Seru Nakaitaci, Jean-Marcel Buttin.

Munster Rugby: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Paul O’Connell (c), Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian Du Preez, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Paddy Butler, Cathal Sheridan, Ian Keatley, Denis Hurley

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