I thought Munster would do it.
Really, I did. The Clermont boys looked rattled going in after the first half and with good reason, since their lead looked nothing like the gap predicted by the bookies and the experts. Despite their astonishing offloading and impressive physicality, they didn’t put enough daylight between us to close out the game and in the end, it came down to a last-minute Munster lineout. If that had gone the right way, we’d now be looking at a place in the final.
Of course, none of this is meant in any way to diminish the achievement of the Clermont team, who were simply awesome, using that word in its correct context for a change. They were great and they did what they needed to do. I think we were looking at the 2013 champions today.
Have I got any gripes?
No. Nigel’s refereeing was fair and our boys did their best. They confounded the pundits by driving the game to a position where a score either way would have decided it and when the final whistle blew, they were defeated only in the sense that there must be a loser. Their pride remains intact and so does ours, because this was no trouncing.
Munster left the field as equals.
Of course it hurts, as these things always do, but Warren Gatland, perched in the stand, will have witnessed a performance by the Munster boys that must surely earn some of them a seat on the plane to Oz. I suppose, given Clermont’s international flavour, he might also have been examining the performance of assorted British players.
Nothing like a subtext to add a little piquancy to proceedings.
Well done Clermont Auvergne. Richly deserved.
It’s about time they won the thing.
Allez les jaunes!