Murray Kinsella reports from Clermont-Ferrand
MUNSTER WERE DESERVEDLY beaten by Clermont at Stade Marcel-Michelin yesterday, but a losing bonus point has been greeted positively on Irish soil.
But what are the French papers saying after ASM’s three-try victory? We’ve taken a look…
Toulon’s Juan Smith adorns the cover of this morning’s Midol. Source: Midi Olympique
While it’s Toulon’s win over Leicester that earns pride of place on the front page of this morning’s Midi Olympique, Clermont’s win is indicated in the sidebar. A picture of Aurélien Rougerie and Thomas Domingo sits over the line ‘the cards in hand,’ meaning that ASM are in control of their destiny in Pool 1.
Just four Clermont players make Midol’s XV of the week, including two-try captain Damien Chouly and out-half Camille Lopez. The bulk of the coverage of Munster’s visit is on page six, with the lead article titled ‘Grande équipe en finitions,’ referring to Clermont’s attacking power.
Journalist Léo Faure writes that Clermont delivered another “high-range performance to take control of the group of ‘death’. The manner of the win was infinitely seductive.”
Source: Midi Olympique
Midol felt that Tommy O’Donnell, JJ Hanrahan, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, and Ian Keatley were the top performers for Munster.
There is also praise for Clermont’s back three, who dealt with Munster’s kicking game in impressive fashion. Rougerie is the man singled out as essential for the home team, “looking younger than his 34 years of age.”
There is also mention of the march the Clermont and Munster fans undertook together pre-match, and Midol praises the “excellent atmosphere” of the day.
Clermont’s win is mentioned on the front page. Source: L’Équipe
As ever, football dominates the pages of this morning’s edition of L’Équipe, but there is mention of Clermont’s win over Munster in the top right corner of the front page.
‘They have sunk Munster,’ reads the headline underneath a photo of ASM’s players celebrating Nao Nakaitaci’s try, with the sub-heading saying, ‘The Auvergnats dominated the Irish armada for the second time in a week.’
Back on page 11, the main piece on last night’s match says Clermont have declared themselves as serious candidates to win the Champions Cup outright with their two victories over Munster.
Rougerie is being lauded by the French media today. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO
Aurélien Rougerie’s superb tackle on Ian Keatley to save what looked like a certain try for Munster in the first half is praised in Aurélien Bouisset’s review of the game, which also includes former England centre Will Greenwood declaring that he has “fallen for the charm of Clermont.”
Elsewhere, there is heavy praise for Fiji-born wing Nao Nakaitaci, who Bouisset believes may be ready for a recall to Philippe Saint-André’s France squad.
L’Équipe’s coverage doesn’t feature too much analysis on what Munster brought to the party last night, instead concentrating on the excellence of Clermont. There is, however, mention of the fact that this is only the second time Munster have lost twice to the same team in the pool stages of Europe.
The previous unhappy occurence was in 1997/98 against Cardiff.
The local daily newspaper’s front page is dominated by a photo of Damien Chouly stretching over for his first try at Stade Marcel-Michelin under the headline ‘L’ASM confirme contre le Munster,’ indicating that Clermont backed up their exploits in Thomond Park by winning again.
Two pages of the sports pages are given over to coverage of the match, much of it praising an ASM team that were “cast-iron”. There is mention of the “ferocity of the Irish” around the breakdown, but La Montagne point out that Munster conceded four penalties at scrum time.
Again, Rougerie is pointed to as the best Clermont player on the night, and he wins the newspaper’s ‘homme du match’ award. ASM head coach Franck Azéma reveals his pleasure at how his side managed Munster’s excellent opening 20 minutes, conceding only six points despite being on the back foot.
Munster were left disappointed in Clermont-Ferrand. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Indeed, Christophe Buron’s report on the match also stresses that Munster “occupied [Clermont’s territory] in vain” in that first half, a key to the match in general.
As with the other French newspapers, there is recognition that Anthony Foley’s side were better than they had been in Limerick.
Finally, La Montagne asks if ASM have become Munster’s bête noire, having beaten the Irish province four times in six meetings. “It’s the worst record the Irish province has against a French club,” stresses Buron.
Munster must be more clinical with attacking chances – Tommy O’DonnellHanrahan’s promising display in Clermont underlines his Munster potential