Matt Giteau warns that Toulon must up their game for Clermont decider

Australian back admits side were far from their best in semi-final win over Leinster

Toulon’s  Matt Giteau runs at Leinster’s   Ian Madigan during the Champions Cup semi final match  at Stade Vélodrome 5 in Marseille. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Toulon’s Matt Giteau runs at Leinster’s Ian Madigan during the Champions Cup semi final match at Stade Vélodrome 5 in Marseille. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

Matt Giteau echoed Toulon team-mate Bryan Habana’s sentiments that the reigning European champions will need to up their game in next month’s Twickenham showdown against Clermont Auvergne.

Toulon and Clermont will contest the fifth all-French major European final on May 2nd, and semi-final evidence suggests Clermont should start as favourites.

Although Toulon claimed a five-point victory over Leinster and Clermont experienced a similarly-tense 13-9 success against Saracens, Giteau and company did not remotely hit the standards they normally reach.

Habana’s extra-time try made the difference in Marseille, with Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicking 20 points, and repelled a brave Leinster performance, but Clermont were far more impressive in seeing off Saracens 24 hours earlier.

“We made it difficult for ourselves,” admitted Australian back Giteau after the 25-20 success.

“It wasn’t one of our best games, but in big games like these, you have to find a way to win.

Second Captains

“It felt like we never really had control and we couldn’t find any rhythm, but we showed massive character in defence, and that’s what got us through.

“The ball was wet and neither side could play in their own half.

“We made points, but then we gave points away.

“It’s great having a goal kicker like Leigh Halfpenny. You can never replace a player like Jonny Wilkinson, but it’s good having Leigh.

“We have to learn from this, and we will really scrutinise the performance. We can’t afford to put ourselves under pressure in the big games.”

Leinster led for large periods of a game that ended 12-12 after 80 minutes, but turned in the blink of an eye with an interception by Habana after he collected Ian Madigan’s loose pass.

Habana added: “If we want to be contenders to win the European title, we will have to go back to the drawing board. As a team, we are going to have to look really hard at ourselves after that performance.

“Our discipline needs to be better and we can’t afford to make as many errors. Mentally, I think we turned up and thought it was going to be a walkover, but the game ended up being on a knife-edge.”

“Now we have the chance to make it a special end to the season for players like Carl Hayman, Ali Williams and Bakkies Botha, who are retiring.

“We’ve got 80 minutes, or maybe 100, to try to put them into the history books as legends with a third successive European win.”

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