Schmidt relieved to survive

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

First published in National Sport News © by

Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt was a relieved man after watching his side survive a late Clermont Auvergne barrage to win 19-15 and reach their third Heineken Cup final in four years.

The defending champions set up an all-Irish final against Ulster at Twickenham on May 19, but only after Wesley Fofana had a try ruled out for Clermont in the final minutes. Reflecting on reaching another Heineken Cup decider in his second year in charge, Schmidt said that out-half Jonathan Sexton had made a key suggestion at half-time.

"Jonny Sexton spoke of course and called the play that we did right after half-time," said Schmidt. "He said 'let's do this play, let's get it dead right and we'll score from it'."

He added: "So anyone who doubted at half-time was pretty quickly in full agreement with Jonny when he knocked over the conversion (of Cian Healy's try) as well to give us a one-point lead.

"We also talked about the scrum and the lineout, making sure that we got the ball from those set phases, because we just felt if we could get some good quality we could put them under pressure, like we had done in the first 15 or 20 minutes."

Leinster captain Leo Cullen admitted it was among the toughest European games he had played.

"To be honest it was pretty intense out there. I think both teams made quite a few mistakes considering the quality of players out there," he said.

"I think a lot of it was to do with the pressure that was there as well. It was one of those games that could have gone either way.

"It goes to the TMO - sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't. We got it there and at the end of the day that's the difference between the two teams."

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