Cotter eyes Heineken Cup final
December 15, 2012
It was a pulsating clash at the Aviva Stadium © PA Photos
Clermont Auvergne head coach Vern Cotter called on his side to continue their impressive run of form on the European stage and book their place in the Heineken Cup final after he saw his team dispatch Leinster 28-21 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Clermont were knocked out of the Heineken Cup at the semi-final stage of last year's tournament to Leinster but Cotter's team have now secured back-to-back wins over the Irish giants and, in the process, have seemingly secured their spot in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
The Top 14 side are eight points clear at the top of Pool Five and Cotter wants his men to end the season with some European silverware.
"We intend to go the whole way," Cotter said. "It's a game of rugby - it doesn't always go the way we want, but our intention is to go as far as we can.
"Last year we lost a semi-final in Bordeaux. Goodness knows what would have happened if Wesley (Fofana) had scored that try (in the last minute of the semi-final against Leinster). We didn't get a crack at the final. We would like to get there and see if we can get over the line and take the title. That is our firm intention."
But while Cotter can start planning for the latter stages of the tournament, Leinster boss Joe Schmidt admits that his side need a miracle if they are to reach the quarters.
"Miracles happen in sport, I guess, but mathematical long shots very seldom come into being," admitted Schmidt. "I don't think we have the same depth as some of the big-spending French clubs. It's hard to take defeat two weeks in a row, with the amount of effort the players put in.
"The other challenge for champions is they always look pretty good when they are on top. It is how they come back from adversity that is the real challenge."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jonny Wilkinson is the face of Toulon but whisper it, they might be a better team without him. Paul Eddison examines the case for dropping the talisman
"It does sometimes get tough as you get older, but there's nothing else I'd rather do." Tom Hamilton talks to fly-half Dan Carter
Stingers, a rampaging Fijian and two Dannys looking to be champions of the world - Monday Maul looks at some key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring