'Very, very happy with the scrum'
Morgan Parra, with seven penalties and a conversion, rarely took his foot off Leinster’s throat. The French scrumhalf empowered his own players too. In the important exchanges of energy that naturally pass between teams through individual performances, it was Parra who charged the game.
“Excellent game as a leader, director, motivator, co-ordinator and goal kicker,” said the Clermont coach Vern Cotter. “He converted pressure into points and that’s a very important. He gave his team reward for their hard work. He had a great game, Brock had a good game. The leaders in the team stepped up and that’s pleasing.”
Cotter was also satisfied with a Clermont scrum that looked vulnerable last week but gave the visitors a decent platform and put Leinster and Irish tighthead prop Mike Ross under pressure throughout.
“Very, very happy with the scrum, the way it turned around,” beamed the coach. “We had a couple of shaky ones last week. The players really wanted to prove we had a better scrum after how it was portrayed in the first game.”
Cotter pointed to the phase just after half-time as being the pivotal passage of the game, when Clermont came out and continued their high-tempo physical game that firmly shut the door on any Leinster ambition.
“Half-time was critical and what we were going to do in the first 10 minutes of the second half was critical,” added Cotter. “They went out of the game at half-time but I knew they would come back and be very strong in their play and in the way they would express themselves. I think the first couple of plays indicated that we were not going to let it go and we were keen to carry the ball up the paddock, keep pressure on them.
“They are not out of this competition,” said Cotter in reference to Leinster. “They could quite easily come back a third time if they get the breaks, if we fall over or other things do what they have to do. It’s not a finished affair. Having Leinster in the pool right from the outset, we knew it was going to be tough.”
But despite his natural conservative streak and post-match diplomacy, there was no hiding his pride.
“Good,” he said of Clermont’s powerful run. “Because all the criteria that’s important for a top performance, technical, tactical, physical, psychological, I thought we were present in all those sectors.
“To get a big performance you’ve got to get up on that and there’s got to be team work and I think the guys played really well as a team. I’m really proud of the way they came together. Without getting too carried away we are reasonably happy.”