Clermont v Leinster

Precedent

This isn’t mission impossible, not by a long stretch. Cast your minds back to the 2012 semi final, when Leinster upset the odds and claimed a famous victory over a much fancied Clermont side. Nacewa, Sexton, Strauss, McFadden, Cronin and Devin Toner were all there that day. Kayser, Zirakashvili, Lapandry, Parra and Aurelian Rougerie, the remnants of a formidable Clermont side. It’s been done before, it can happen again. This current Clermont side though, will feel that this is the year the monkey finally comes off the back after losses in the 2013 and 2015 finals. They go into tomorrow’s semi final as heavy favourites.

3 Key Battles

Ringrose v Rougerie –  This is tasty. The towering, talismanic figure of french rugby up against the emerging and limitless potential of another Irish thirteen.

Jack McGrath v Zirakashvili – The young Leinster prop goes head to head with the Georgian, who may in fact live under a bridge and just come out to scrum. Solidifying the set piece will be vital in helping a young Leinster back row.

Sexton v Lopez – Irish out half against French out half. Leinster will depend on Sexton more, but he carries that responsibility well.

How’s it going to go?

Perhaps it’s the hopeless dreamer in me, or maybe blind optimism, but I think Leinster can come through this. Regardless of the absence of Healy, Heaslip, O’Brien and Kearney, this Leinster team still has enough in it’s quiver to get the job done. Yes they’re young and perhaps inexperienced but there’s a fearlessness in that youth, and an arrogance that’ll mean they won’t be overawed by the occasion. For me the backlines cancel each other out, it’s in the pack where Clermont look much stronger. If Leinster can get parity, Johnny Sexton can be the difference.

 

Leinster

15. Joey Carbery

14. Fergus McFadden

13. Garry Ringrose

12. Robbie Henshaw

11. Isa Nacewa (c)

10. Johnny Sexton

9. Luke McGrath

1. Jack McGrath

2. Richardt Strauss

3. Tadhg Furlong

4. Devin Toner

5. Hayden Triggs

6. Rhys Ruddock

7. Dan Leavy

8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

16. Seán Cronin

17. Peter Dooley

18. Michael Bent

19. Ross Molony

20. Josh van der Flier

21. Jamison Gibson-Park

22. Ross Byrne

23. Zane Kirchner

 

Clermont

15. Scott Spending

14. David Strettle

13. Aurelien Rougerie

12. Remi Lamerat

11. Nick Abendanon

10. Camille Lopez

9. Morgan Parra

1. Raphael Chaume

2. Benjamin Kayser

3. Davit Zirakashvili

4. Arthur Iturria

5. Sébastien Vahaamahina

6. Damien Chouly (c)

7. Peceli Yato

8. Fritz Lee

Replacements:

16. John Ulugia

17. Etienne Falgoux

18. Aaron Jarvis

19. Paul Jedrasiak

20. Alexandre Lapandry

21. Ludovic Radosavljevic

22. Patricio Fernandez

23. Damien Penaud

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