Leinster left reeling by Clermont power
The chase was, in the end, a hopeless one that petered out in the face of a relentlessly up tempo opposition. Clermont steadily gathered their points through the boot of their scrumhalf to add to a 35th minute try for Wesley Fofana after Sitiveni Sivivatu had sucked three or four blue shirts into the left corner.
At that point shortly after O’Brien departed on 51 minutes the contest appeared to naturally breathe its last. Parra kicked another penalty for 9-22 as the flanker took to his seat, the crowd quietened, looked around, shuffled in their seats, went for beer and thankfully didn’t do a Mexican wave but at 11 points and a man down wondered where the beating of Clermont was going to come from. In the eerie silence, Clermont crushed a Leinster scrum, Parra hit the post and then landed another penalty for 9-25.
Hell raising finish
Barnes finally had words with captain Aurelien Rougerie for the fourth infringement under their posts and from that lucrative piece of real estate Devin Toner gathered from a lineout for openside flanker Shane Jennings to barrel over for a try. With the excellent Sexton’s conversion for 16-25 on 66 minutes, the numbers looked plausible if Leinster could conjure a hell-raising finish.
This week that was not in the script, not against this Clermont team. Parra, unperturbed by another bout of booing from the crowd, banged over another kick and with replacement flanker Julien Bardy sin-binned on 75 minutes, Leinster left their best offensive move for last.
A Fergus McFadden break out of Leinster turf down the right put Sexton into a gallop with French cover sliding across. But the outhalf, showing his sense of space and awareness, moved infield to meet his tackler creating space outside. Sexton was felled but not before he had returned to McFadden for the try.
It took Leinster to within seven points for a bonus, one that could be crucial when the pool ledgers are balanced. But they left the pitch heads down and in the knowledge that their league game against Ulster in Belfast at the weekend looks more important than ever if they are to win any silverware this year.