14th December 2012 16:24
It is make or break time for reigning Heineken Cup champions Leinster as they chase a vital win against Pool 5 leaders Clermont Auvergne at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
LEINSTER (2nd) v CLERMONT AUVERGNE (1st), Aviva Stadium, 3.40pm (live Sky Sports 1/HD1/FR2/Newstalk/highlights TG4)
Team News: The Leinster team to face Clermont Auvergne in Saturday’s Heineken Cup round 4 duel at the Aviva Stadium has been named.
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Springbok prop Heinke van der Merwe has recovered from injury, slotting back in as one of two changes to the front row alongside Ireland hooker Richardt Strauss.
They line up alongside Mike Ross, with skipper Leo Cullen continuing his second row partnership with Damian Browne.
Shane Jennings, a second half replacement away to Clermont Auvergne last weekend, starts in the back row alongside fellow Ireland internationals Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip.
Eoin Reddan partners Jonathan Sexton in the only change to the back-line which started last Sunday’s narrow 15-12 defeat at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
Andrew Goodman, who had an impressive Heineken Cup bow in the round 3 tie, will continue his centre partnership with the vastly-experienced Gordon D’Arcy.
David Kearney, meanwhile, has recovered from injury to take his place amongst a replacements bench which features several Ireland internationals.
Speaking ahead of the rematch with the Pool 5 leaders, flanker Sean O’Brien said: “(Last week’s game) could have swung in our favour at certain times but it wasn’t the case.
“As Joe (Schmidt) said earlier, we’ve to sharpen up this week and get back to doing what we do well, get our accuracy right and really go after them this week.
“If we get our performance right, we’ll be there or thereabouts and that’s what we’re going out to do this week.”
Meanwhile, Clermont Auvergne boss Vern Cotter has made two changes in personnel for the trip to the home of Irish rugby.
Vincent Debaty and Alexandre Lapandry have dropped to the bench, with Raphael Chaume and Julien Bardy earning call-ups at loosehead prop and openside flanker respectively.
However, the French club’s Australian out-half Brock James is a doubt for the game. James, who kicked a crucial drop goal in the round 3 meeting, faces a late fitness test after picking up a knock.
If he is unable to start, France international David Skrela will come into the starting line-up with All Black Benson Stanley standing by to join the replacements.
LEINSTER: Ian Madigan; Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Goodman, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Damian Browne, Sean O’Brien, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin, Isaac Boss, Andrew Conway David Kearney.
CLERMONT AUVERGNE: Lee Byrne; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Aurélien Rougerie (capt), Wesley Fofana, Napolioni Nalaga; Brock James, Morgan Parra; Raphael Chaume, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili, Jamie Cudmore, Nathan Hines, Julien Bonnaire, Julien Bardy, Damien Chouly.
Replacements: Ti’i Paulo, Vincent Debaty, Daniel Kotze, Loic Jacquet, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radoslavjevic, David Skrela, Regan King.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle, Paul Dix (both England)
Television Match Official: Geoff Warren (England)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/3; Draw: 22/1; Clermont Auvergne to win: 5/2
Pre-Match Quotes: Isa Nacewa (Leinster) – “It’s a short six-day turnaround for us this week and we were really tuned in from Sunday evening to get ourselves right.
“We have a proud record in the Aviva that we want to keep intact and the desire is there for us to show our supporters what we can do.
“Motivation won’t be an issue for us on Saturday. We have to hit every tackle and ruck with absolute ruthless intensity and take any opportunity that comes our way.
“We know that we need to be more clinical when we are in possession and if we can gain some early momentum – and with a huge and hopefully vocal crowd behind us – we can get the win that we’re looking for.”
Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne) – “We’ve already had the chance to play this double header (in 2010) and after conceding a defensive bonus point at home, we went to Dublin with good intentions before exploding.
“We don’t want to relive that experience (of losing 24-8 to Leinster). We’ll need to show that we’ve made some progress.”
Current Form – Leinster – (RaboDirect PRO12): Lost 45-20 away to the Scarlets; Won 45-25 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Won 19-18 away to Benetton Treviso; Won 22-16 at home to Edinburgh; Lost 34-6 away to Connacht; Won 30-21 at home to Munster; (Heineken Cup): Won 9-6 at home to Exeter Chiefs; Won 20-13 away to the Scarlets; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 59-22 at home to the Cardiff Blues; Lost 19-10 away to the Ospreys; Won 6-0 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 37-7 at home to Zebre; (Heineken Cup): Lost 15-12 away to Clermont Auvergne
Clermont Auvergne – (Top 14 Championship): Won 13-6 away to Bayonne; Lost 13-8 away to Montpellier; Won 53-31 at home to Perpignan; Won 13-12 at home to Racing Metro 92; Won 14-6 away to Mont-de-Marsan; Won 44-20 at home to Grenoble; Won 28-25 at home to Stade Francais; Lost 16-13 away to Castres Olympique; (Heineken Cup): Won 49-16 at home to the Scarlets; Won 46-12 away to Exeter Chiefs; (Top 14 Championship): Won 19-12 at home to Biarritz Olympique; Won 18-11 away to Agen; Won 24-21 at home to Toulon; Lost 30-22 away to Toulouse; (Heineken Cup): Won 15-12 at home to Leinster
Top Scorers – 2012/13 Heineken Cup: Leinster – Points: Jonathan Sexton 36; Tries: Isa Nacewa 1; Clermont Auvergne – Points: Morgan Parra 41; Tries: Napolioni Nalaga 3
Previous European Meetings: 7
Saturday, December 7, 2002 – Pool 4 – Montferrand 20 Leinster 23, Stade Marcel Michelin
Friday, December 13, 2002 – Pool 4 – Leinster 12 Montferrand 9, Donnybrook
Friday, April 9, 2010 – Quarter-final – Leinster 29 Clermont Auvergne 28, the RDS
Sunday, December 12, 2010 – Pool 2 – Clermont Auvergne 20 Leinster 13, Stade Marcel Michelin
Saturday, December 18, 2010 – Pool 2 – Leinster 24 Clermont Auvergne 8, Aviva Stadium
Sunday, April 29, 2012 – Semi-final – Clermont Auvergne 15 Leinster 19, Stade Chaban-Delmas
Sunday, December 9, 2012 – Pool 5 – Clermont Auvergne 15 Leinster 12, Stade Marcel Michelin
Match Facts And Figures –
– Nobody has made more offloads than Clermont Auvergne captain Aurélien Rougerie this season, the centre has made nine to date
– Jamie Heaslip has made 40 tackles (0 missed) so far this season, more than anybody else
– Clermont Auvergne have averaged a team gain of 565 metres per match so far, the most in the tournament
– This weekend sees the sixth meeting between these teams since 2009. The Leinstermen have won three of those and lost the other two
Heineken Cup Records:
2009/10: Reached the semi-finals
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2005/06: Reached the semi-finals
2004/05: Reached the quarter-finals
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2002/03: Reached the semi-finals
2001/02: Reached the quarter-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1995/96: Reached the semi-finals
Clermont Auvergne –
2011/12: Reached the semi-finals
2010/11: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2009/10: Reached the quarter-finals
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2001/02: Reached the quarter-finals
1999/00: Reached the quarter-finals