Next week can't come quick enough - Boss
Cue Leinster, and the need for an equally feverish atmosphere in the Aviva next Saturday. Not only have Clermont put the champions’ title on the line in the rematch, likewise the cracking atmosphere generated by a record Stade Marcel Michelin crowd has put it up to Leinster’s home crowd. And, with over 45,000 tickets sold, the boys in blue need every help possible.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable,” said Isaac Boss. “They’re great supporters and really got behind them. That’s one thing they have in common with our fans. Hopefully our fans can get the place rocking next week. Hopefully it’s going to be a cauldron for us.”
Familiarity breeds contempt, and plenty of sporting rivalries support the theory, but despite this being a sixth meeting in four consecutive seasons full-on combat, the respect between the two clubs and supporters is palpable.
Although Leinster ultimately couldn’t add to the one line break early on by Ian Madigan, they traded big hits all day long, were ferociously competitive at the breakdown, sought to take the game to the home side and kept them tryless. Although there is also a chance that Clermont will feel free to swing from the hip, but Boss believes they can take confidence from their efforts, however bruising.
“We’re mentally confident. We’re physically battered and bruised but next week can’t come quickly enough. Putting everything into a game and losing, it’s a really empty feeling. At the end of the day, we lost. And we didn’t come here to lose. We came here to get four points at least and we truly believed that we could. We’ve got to move on quickly, we can’t dwell on it too much because there’s a job to be done.”
Reflecting further on the draw, or win, that got away last Sunday in Clermont, Boss admitted: “We got ourselves in a position to get a win there. If we were a little more accurate, we could have come away with a win. You could say they were wilting but they had a couple of chances on the break as well. We defended them quite well but that’s when we were in good situations ourselves.
“We were lucky they didn’t score in the end. We’re gutted. We were confident coming in. It’s hard to be upbeat about a few things, but we could have easily come away with nothing, especially towards the end. Something’s better than nothing. Now we really need to get the four next Sunday.
“But it definitely feels like a missed opportunity. We had more chances. We made a few errors. From one to 15 we probably all did something a little off, myself included; I made a few errors there. These are things that we shouldn’t be doing. Big match pressure.”
As well as being direct and setting close-in targets, Leinster used plenty of inside passes to go back against the grain and maybe locate lazy defenders. But there weren’t too many of them and it will be fascinating to see how two sides go about unlocking each other.
“We’ll have the same approach next week, maybe try to come at them a bit harder,” said Boss. “We’ll worry about our own job really. We’re happy with the way we defended; we just need to be a bit more accurate on attack, take it an extra phase or two and capitalise on the opportunities that we create.
“But we’re confident because we were so competitive. We knew that to start with it. We had no doubts coming over here. We had a belief that we could come over here and win. That’s why we’re so disappointed. We always have that confidence so we’ll be able to bring that with us for next week. But ultimately they’re in the driving seat.”
Clermont Auvergne scrumhalf Morgan Parra has warned that his side have not yet accomplished anything special despite Sunday’s victory over European champions Leinster.
The 24-year-old, who kicked four penalties in the 15-12 win, also suggested that the visitors had to use all their experience and cunning to run the home side close.
“We were often dominated in terms of possession and territory but we never gave up,” he told La Montagne. “The important thing was to quickly find defensive solutions after a difficult start.
“Up front, we could have had a better return to get more workable possession. But we were up against Leinster, a very organised, calm and lucid team. They never panic . . . and they also know how to play the referee.”