Leinster hold off Clermont to make final

PA Sport
Cian Healy
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Cian Healy

Defending champions Leinster set up an all-Irish Heineken Cup final with a 19-15 victory after surviving a late onslaught from Clermont Auvergne during which Wesley Fofana dramatically had a try ruled out for the French side.

Joe Schmidt's side started the game well but with their lineout malfunctioning, four penalties from Brock James saw the French challengers lead 12-6 at half-time.

Yet Leinster got the perfect start to the second half when Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney combined to set up Cian Healy for a 42nd-minute try. A stunning Kearney drop goal extended Leinster's lead before James replied. Jonathan Sexton's third penalty put Leinster 19-15 in front before Clermont centre Fofana was inches away from scoring the match-winning try.

This pulsating semi-final finished with Clermont pounding the Leinster line but the Irish side showed immense resilience to hold on and set up a meeting with Ulster at Twickenham on May 19.

The interval clearly came at a good time for the defending champions though as they responded just after the restart with the opening try.

With their lineout working for once, O'Driscoll and Kearney punched a hole through the Clermont defence to give Healy an easy run-in. Sexton converted and Leinster were a point ahead.

Four minutes later they went 16-12 in front when the increasingly influential Kearney produced a stunning drop goal from over 45 metres out.

James then missed a drop goal and a penalty in quick succession before another penalty from the Australian made it 16-15 after 52 minutes.

Although Leinster were held up a few metres out, Clermont had infringed and Sexton kicked over from a tricky angle outside the 22 to make it 19-15 with 17 minutes left.

Fofana appeared to have crossed with seconds remaining but after television match official Geoff Warren reviewed the footage, the try was ruled out for a knock on. The French international fumbled the ball forward under pressure from Gordon D'Arcy's last-ditch tackle.

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