Clermont teach Leinster a harsh lesson
The travelling supporters understandably belted out Les Marseillaise. In stark contrast, the reserved locals in the 48,964 crowd went embarrassingly quiet.
Another scrum, another pasting from Chaume and Davit Zirakashvili but Parra’s penalty glanced the upright.
As the floodgates threatened to burst, a visibly annoyed Isa Nacewa was replaced by Dave Kearney.
Joe Schmidt was also forced to replace Ross with Michael Bent as Barnes threatened another yellow card. Parra nailed the penalty to make it 25-9.
It was suffocating. It felt like we were watching the best team in Europe ending the champions reign.
Leinster, admirably, came again with Shane Jennings, Sexton and O’Brien ever willing carriers but Clermont were more than happy to illegally halt their progress.
Still, Barnes refused to reduce their numbers. Finally, off a Devin Toner lineout, Jennings got over for the much needed try.
There would be no late reprieve although Sexton did create a late try for Fergus McFadden to earn the bonus point that could prove important.
Scoring sequence – 7 mins:M Parra pen, 3-0; 17 mins:J Sexton pen, 3-3; 19 mins:M Parra pen, 6-3; 25 mins:J Sexton pen, 6-6; 31 mins:M Parra pen, 9-6; 34 mins:W Fofana try, 14-6; M Parra con, 16-6. Half-time. 43 mins:M Parra pen, 19-6; 46 mins:J Sexton pen, 19-9; 52 mins:M Parra pen, 22-9; 62 mins:M Parra pen, 25-9; 66 mins:S Jennings try, 25-14; J Sexton con, 25-16; 70 mins:M Parra pen, 28-16; 79 mins:F McFadden try, 28-21.
Sin bin – Leinster:S O’Brien (51-61 mins). Clermont:A Lapandry (76 mins)
LEINSTER:I Madigan; F McFadden, G D’Arcy, A Goodman, I Nacewa; J Sexton, E Reddan; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, M Ross; L Cullen (capt), D Browne; S O’Brien, S Jennings, J Heaslip. Replacements:S Cronin for R Strauss (11mins, inj), D Toner for D Browne (half-time), C Healy for H van der Merwe (46 mins), D Kearney for I Nacewa (59 mins), M Bent for M Ross (61 mins), I Boss for E Reddan (65 mins), J Murphy for S Jennings (67 mins).
ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE:L Byrne; S Sivivatua, A Rougerie (capt), W Fofana, N Nalaga; B James, M Parra; R Chaume, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili; J Cudmore, N Hines; J Bonnaire, J Bardy, D Chouly. Replacements:R King for L Byrne (36 mins), V Debaty for R Chaume (65 mins), D Kitze for D Zirakashvili, T Paulo for B Kayser (both 70 mins), L Jacquet for N Hines (74 mins).
Referee: W Barnes(RFU).