Planet Rugby

Preview: Clermont v Leinster

07th December 2012 09:41

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Morgan Parra Clermont Auvergne Top 14

Key distributor: Morgan Parra

Leinster travel to Clermont looking to become the first side to beat the French side at home since November 2009.

The Dubliners, who are looking to win their fourth title in five years, will be under no illusions of the task facing them when they travel to face one of the favourites for this season's competition.

The French side will be determined to make amends for the 19-15 defeat to Leinster in last year's semi-final in Bordeaux which cost them a place in the final at Twickenham.

This clash does bring the best attacking side in the competition so far - Clermont - and the best defensive side - Leinster - together but something will have to give this weekend.

Clermont have already scored a dozen tries in their two comprehensive victories over the Scarlets and Exeter Chiefs and lead the Pool by two points ahead of the Irish club.

Leinster have managed only one try in their previous two games but their impressive defence has also seen them only concede a solitary try and they still have Clermont very much in their sights.

Clermont coach Vern Cotter has decided to make 12 changes from the team that started last weekend in Toulouse.

Aurélien Rougerie captains the side from outside centre partnered by French international Wesley Fofana, with Sitiveni Sivivatu and Naipolioni Nalaga offering the attacking threat out wide.

Morgan Parra and Brock James are named at half-back, with Jamie Cudmore and Nathan Hines making up the pairing in the second-row.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Sexton will make his 100th appearance for Leinster after being named in the side for Sunday's clash in France and the Ireland out-half will partner Isaac Boss at half-back.

Gordon D'Arcy, meanwhile, will become the most capped Leinster player in Heineken Cup history when he takes his place at outside centre and he will make his 88th European appearance alongside tournament debutant Andrew Goodman who lines up inside him.

Leo Cullen leads the team and is named in an all-Ireland pack which features seven internationals as well as Ireland 'A' lock Damian Browne. Mike Ross starts in the front row - alongside Sean Cronin and Cian Healy - and the Cork man will make his 75th appearance since his 2009 move to the province.

The teams:

Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Vincent Debaty.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Raphael Chaume, 18 Daniel Kotze, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Julien Bardy, 21 Ludo Radosavljevic, 22 David Skrela, 23 Regan King.

Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Gordon D'Arcy, 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Issac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Damien Browne, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Fionn Carr, 23 Andrew Conway.

Date: Sunday, December 9
Kick-off: 16:00 (15:00 GMT)
Venue: Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jonathan Mason (Wales)
Television match official: Derek Bevan (Wales)
Timekeeper: Daniel Gillet (France)

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Pool 1
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2Northampton617
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4Ospreys65
Pool 2
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2Cardiff Blues614
3Exeter612
4Glasgow Warriors611
Pool 3
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2Saracens620
3Connacht613
4Zebre60
Pool 4
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1Clermont Auvergne624
2Harlequins616
3Scarlets611
4Racing Metro Paris67
Pool 5
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1Ulster626
2Leicester Tigers621
3Montpellier611
4Treviso60
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1Munster623
2Gloucester614
3Edinburgh612
4Perpignan67