Heineken Cup: Clermont beat Munster to reach first final
Last Updated: 27/04/13 9:16pm
Clermont's Napolioni Nalaga goes over for the first try
Clermont Auvergne reached their first Heineken Cup final with a tense 16-10 victory over Munster at Stade de la Mosson.
Clermont were the only unbeaten team left in the competition at the semi-final stage and they remain that way as they head for a showdown in Dublin next month against either Toulon or Saracens.
The French side almost completely dominated the two-time former champions from the outset, but Munster somehow managed to stay in the game and were able to set up a tense and nervy final quarter for the home crowd.
Munster actually took the lead after four minutes as Clermont were penalised for not clearing a ruck and Ronan O'Gara knocked over the penalty, but almost from that moment on Clermont took control of proceedings.
Clermont won the re-start on the Munster 22 and three minutes of sustained pressure later, Naipolioni Nalaga skipped his way through a shredded defence to the posts, a try which Morgan Parra converted for a 7-3 lead.
Clermont continued on the front foot, attacking relentlessly, contstantly breaking the gain-line and forcing Munster into some ferocious defence at the breakdown.
Inevitably some of it was illegal, and although Munster were awarded a couple of relieving penalties for attackers holding on, they were also penalised and Parra knocked over two simple penalties to stretch the lead.
Munster's one period of pressure in the first half arrived right at its end, with a series of forward drives underneath the Clermont posts. But the ball was lost in contact and a crucial chance to switch the momentum was gone.
Munster were caught off their feet again shortly after the re-start and Parra punished them, stretching the lead to 16-3.
The momentum of the game finally swung just past the hour. The Clermont defensive line looked unbreachable so O'Gara changed tack and dinked through a perfect kick for Denis Hurley to scoop up and score.
O'Gara added the extras from the touchline and suddenly Munster scented a comeback, a feeling increased when Parra missed a high-pressure but straightforward kick to stretch the lead to two scores.
Munster had their chance with four minutes left, when a penalty for offside gave them an attacking lineout 15 metres out. But Conor Murray attempted to scoot round the blindside and knocked on under pressure.