Semi Final Knock-Out
27th April 2013 By Munster Rugby
Despite a first half performance where Clermont excelled, Munster were only behind by 10 at the break and up for battle for the final 40 minutes.
Munster reduced the margin to 6 points after 61 minutes and battered down the door for the final 20 looking for that elusive score but it was not to be and the French side now advance to the Heineken Cup Final.
O'Gara opened the scoring after 5 minutes, kicking Munster's only points of the half, in contrast to Clermont who pushed on with two Parra penalties and a converted try from Nalaga.
Parra kicked his third penalty 7 minutes into the 2nd half and the French side led 16-3 before a well timed O'Gara chip-through found Denis Hurley chasing down the wing, and at the end of Munster's frst try. Ronan added the conversion with 6 points the difference going into the final quarter.
Para missed his first penalty 6 minutes later and Munster were still within fighting chance of snatching the win but Clermont held firm and Munster were denied despite the gallant effort to the end.
Paul O'Connell afterwards commented, "Today was just the other way around, we just couldn't get anything going, we gave them a leg up at the start and you can't do that against any good side. In the second half we had opportunities that we didn't take. We were doing a lot of good things at that stage and we put them under pressure but we just turned over ball at points where we couldn't afford to."
Ronan O'Gara added "It's extremely hard to take,…..the winner takes it all! It's an unbelieveable competition, a cracking atmosphere here today, as good as it gets, and a fantastic occasion – that's why we play and we are proud to be part of this team."
"We're growing, and we'll get better as a team. We gave them too much of a start, another 10 minutes and who's to say what could have happened. We showed character and it's difficult to accept now but we'll move on."
When asked was today his last Heineken Cup appearance, "I don't know, it's not a day for thinking of that, it wouldn't be fair to my team-mates. I was focussed on playing Clermont and I love coming to France, it makes me appreciate rugby so much. I'll sleep on it and think of things at the end of the season, it would be hard to walk away form this beauty here!" – as he throws his eyes to Paul O'Connell!